Rash by Pete Hautman. Narrated by Andy Paris. 2006. Recorded Books. 6 hrs. 33 minutes.
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.
Consumption of alcohol: Illegal.
Football and other "violent" sports: Illegal.
Ownership of guns, chain saws, and/or large dogs: Illegal.
Body piercings, tattoos: Illegal.
It's late in the twenty-first century, and the United Safer States of America (USSA) has become a nation obsessed with safety. For Bo Marsten, a teenager who grew up in the USSA, it's all good. He knows the harsh laws were created to protect the people. But when Bo's temper flares out of control and he's sentenced to three years of manual labor, he's not so down with the law anymore.
Bo's forced to live and work in a factory in the Canadian tundra. The warden running the place is totally out of his mind, and cares little for his inmates' safety. Bo will have to decide what's worse: a society that locks people up for road rage, or a prison where the wrong move could make you polar bear food.
A few months before I started blogging, I read Pete Hautman's Rash. I loved it so much that I found myself rereading it a few months later. That was in December of 2006. It took two posts for me to 'properly' convey my enthusiasm. It's been four years since I first read Rash. That is one of the reasons why I wanted to give Rash a listen this week.
What is it about? It's about a teen guy, Bo, who is in trouble with the law. It is set in the future--in the 2070s, I believe--so in trouble with the law means something entirely different. It's a fascinating novel; the little details make it quite a thought-provoking read. The premise being--what would a safer future look like? But just because this is a premise-driven novel doesn't mean that it isn't a compelling read.
The audio book is narrated by Andy Paris. And I think he did a great job with this one. I loved the voices he did for each character. Especially Bork and Gramps. Unfortunately, the audio book of this one is out of print. And it is not available on audible either.
There were several things I noticed this time around.
- I just now realized that the 'figurative' bear chasing Bo during his track races became all-too-literal once he's imprisoned. And while imagining a bear chasing him helped Bo run a bit faster, it is nothing in comparison to the real thing.
- The emphasis on sports. When I read the book, it was easy for me to not focus on the sports. Hearing the book, it became more difficult for me to ignore the fact that this is very much a boy book, a sports book.
- Just how dysfunctional Bo's family is. The strained relationships between members of his family.
- Though it's set in the future--though so many things are unfamiliar, so strange to modern readers--it is very much a coming of age story. The problems Bo has are universal, timeless.
- It's a very strange, one-of-a-kind book.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews