Monday, January 22, 2007


Hautman, Pete. 2006. RASH. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780689868016 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Set in the 2070s, Rash provides readers with an imaginative look at the future. "Gramps, who was born in 1990, once told me that when he was my age the only way to wind up in prison in the USSA (back when it had only one S) was to steal something, kill somebody, or use illegal drugs" (3). When verbal assaults, obscene gestures, or forgetting to take one’s prescribed medications are criminal offenses, it’s no surprise that America’s top industry is the penal system. What starts out as a minor conflict at high school turns into a three-year sentence for our narrator, Bo Marsten, who then becomes a ‘worker-drone’ at one of McDonald’s rehabilitation factories making frozen pizza. Full of surprises, RASH is an always enjoyable, rather clever glimpse of what the future could hold.

Hautman states on his website that thinking about modern safety trends led him to write RASH, “a sometimes funny, sometimes not funny book about a teen growing up in the "United Safer States of America," circa 2074, when pedestrians wear walking helmets, football has been banned, verbal abuse is a misdemeanor, and obesity is a felony.” Have readers write their own brief imaginative sketches about the future.

Gramps, one of the most memorable characters, states in RASH that “the country went to hell the day we decided we’d rather be safe than free” (60). Discuss the concepts of freedom, justice, and safety. Can any good idea when taken to the extreme become bad?

Other books with futuristic settings:
Lowry, Lois. THE GIVER. ISBN 0440237688
Westerfeld, Scott. UGLIES. ISBN 0689865384
White, Andrea. SURVIVING ANTARCTICA: REALITY TV 2083. ISBN 0060554541

By Becky Laney

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