All Good Children

All Good Children

by Catherine Austen

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Overview

It's the middle of the twenty-first century and the elite children of New Middletown are lined up to receive a treatment that turns them into obedient, well-mannered citizens. Maxwell Connors, a seventeen-year-old prankster, misfit and graffiti artist, observes the changes with growing concern, especially when his younger sister, Ally, is targeted. Max and his best friend, Dallas, escape the treatment, but must pretend to be "zombies" while they watch their freedoms and hopes decay. When Max's family decides to take Dallas with them into the unknown world beyond New Middletown's borders, Max's creativity becomes an unexpected bonus rather than a liability.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781554698264
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication date: 10/01/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 312
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Catherine Austen was raised in Kingston, Ontario, the youngest of five children. She studied political science at Queen's University and environmental studies at York University. While procrastinating in the face of exams, she wrote several short stories for literary journals. She worked through the 1990s in Canada's conservation movement, campaigning for federal endangered species legislation. In 2000, Catherine quit office life to raise her children and work as a freelance writer for environmental organizations and First Nations. While procrastinating in the face of deadlines, she began writing children's fiction. Catherine writes from her home in Quebec, which she shares with her husband, Geoff, and their children, Sawyer and Daimon.

Read an Excerpt

Living with hope is like rubbing up against a cheese grater. It keeps taking slices off you until there's so little left you just crumble.


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All Good Children 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Tinasbookreviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All Good Children was a surprisingly great read. The Dystopian thread was smart and well paced. I doubt that Austen will get the attention her book so much deserves, but word of mouth and blogger buzz hopefully will spark interest.Granted this is nothing like her first novel Walking Backwards, AGC seeks a mature audience, as sexual situations and strong language are highly present, even sometimes very unnecessary for a young adult book.
krau0098 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through Librarything's Early Reviewer program. This was a great book, well written and engaging, a little scary too. There was only one major flaw with the story that kept me from absolutely loving this book.Max, his sister, and his mother live together in Middleton. Middleton is supposedly one of the few cities left where humanity is doing pretty well. When Max and his family come back from a funeral in Atlanta, Max notices something strange about Ally's classmates. Ally's classmates don't play, they don't laugh, they are like perfect little robots. Then Max finds out about a vaccination initiative in the school system. The children are being given vaccines that make them easier to teach; they are less likely to question things and obey everything. For now Max and his sister are safe, but it won't be long until the vaccines are given to older kids as well. Then Max and his family will have to make a choice; stay and fight, be vaccinated, or flee.Max is a fun character. He is super smart but also a prankster and kind of obnoxious. He loves his family though, and despite all the trouble he gets in to, you can really tell. His little sister, Ally, is adorable and also a lot of fun. His mother is a strong woman but is caught between protecting her family by keeping her job and protecting her family by going against the system.The story is easy to read and very well written, the plot was engaging and the tension was constantly building as more and more kids are vaccinated and zombiefied. It was a hard book to put down and really drew me in.Parts of this story are very creepy; both from a kid's point of view and from a parent's point of view. The parents aren't given a choice; the vaccination is mandatory (much like most current day vaccinations) but without any science to back them up. When kids have bad reactions to the vaccination it is brushed off and ignored. When Max's mom tries to speak out against the vaccinations it is implied that she is mentally unfit to take care of her children and that if she continues to be a problem they will be taken away from her. As I said very subtly creepy and terrifying.The book brings up a lot of issues about race (Max and his family are black), freedom of speech, and free will. There is lots to ponder and think about here.I have one absolutely huge problem with this book that made the story very hard for me to accept. While there are a couple mummers of adults being upset by the vaccinations (one teacher bemoans the lack of creativity in his new zombified class, and Max's mom speaks out against it during an info session at school) the vast majority of adults seem pleased by it. I find this incredibly hard to believe. Knowing how protective parents are of their kids, I can not believe there isn't more retaliation. I mean happy laughing young children are turned into blank-faced robots. Seriously? Is any parent going to tolerate that? Throughout the book most of the adults are happy that their children are so much easier to handle and take so much less energy to deal with. Really? I understand this is aimed at a middle grade crowd, but how many parents out there would accept their children being turned into robots...and not only accept it but be happy about it? I just can't accept this premise for the story; especially in the given society where people are doing fairly well and not desperately trying to eke out a living.Another minor problem I had with this book was another thing I had trouble finding believable. How could you get a drug that would react with the majority of kids in such a way that it would make them all talk and act the same? All the kids in this book parrot each other after being vaccinated and are eerily the same. I understand a drug making kids more open to suggestions; but having them all act the same and like robots because of a drug is a bit of a stretch.So far one major flaw, why are the parent
highflyer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was pretty disappointed with this book. It sounds like an excellent story and it really is interesting. It's not like it doesn't have a good story to read, it just doesn't hit the mark with what a great dystopian novel should have. At least in my opinion.I really liked the idea that the school systems, already dealing with a lot of other issues in the world like poverty, expensive cars and gas and terrible wages, must do something to help force their students to behave and actually care about things other than creativity and getting into trouble. Teachers and parents are simply giving up because they're frustrated and in my opinion, lazy and they'd rather not fight with kids over things that kids do. So they decide to start drugging these children. The sick part? It really is a way to make money. So, is this story believable? Yes, to me it is. I can see it happening. However I just really disliked the way this story was executed. I think a big turn off for me simply was the writing style. It seemed to vary a bit in different parts, some of which really made me want to skip over. Also, I guess I expected the 'zombie' thing to be a bit more creepy than irritating and sad. This is a quick read though if you're looking for a slight dystopian novel to read.
Bookworm_Lisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book deals with another future scenario gone horribly wrong.Max is a teen who is living in a highly sheltered community. The city is gated and you must have a place to live to get in. He is told how lucky he is to be where he is. The city is full of geriatrics. They are all sent to a nursing home to live out their days in peace and comfort.Things begin to change when the kids are given vaccines that alters their personality. The teachers and administrators are thrilled and call it nesting. Max and his friends call them zombies. Then it is Max's grades turn to get the vaccine.This is very interesting. I can't help but think about how for some there is a push to medicate active children so they are more manageable. (Just a thought.)I take this as a cautionary tale. There is sex talk and repeated use of the "F" word.
sch_94 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Summary: Life hasn't been what you'd call 'easy' for Max - ever since his father died three years ago, his mother, his sister, and himself have been forced to uproot their lives. Going from being filthy rich to just scraping by, Max is pretty angry about the way his life is - especially because people in New Middletown treat him like he's worthless now. Max strikes back with his art - sprawling graffiti scenes painted on every surface that will hold paint. Most would call him a trouble-maker, but Max manages to do all this while maintaining an A+ average at an academic school, so he gets away with a lot.Until strange things start happening to the kids in New Middletown, and Max can't shake the suspicion that it's being caused by the parents in the city. As everyone he cares about begins to change - into what he calls 'zombies - Max must fight to protect the only things he has left: his family and his art. My Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed this novel for a number of reasons: the first of which being that it's a dystopian, but it's not too far in the future, so it's easy to envision Max's world. The second reason being that it begs the question: when does government control and involvement in our lives go too far?I also really enjoyed the writing. The author did a great job with imagery, painting a desolate landscape inside my head. And she didn't shy away from emotion, either: unlike with a lot of protagonists, you can really see how much Max cares about his mom and little sister, along with his best friend Dallas - you can feel his desperation towards not being able to help or protect the people he loves. His emotions come across very strongly to the reader, which I love; how many times have you read a book where something happens and the protagonist goes, "oh no... this sucks"? I know I've had a quite a few, and this novel was a refreshing change from that.Final Thoughts: I strongly recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of realistic dystopians, and to anyone who hasn't really ventured very far into the genre and would like something not too crazy to start off their exploration. Check it out! I know I'm looking forward to a lot more from author.
katrinasoper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So, All Good Children. I liked this book.All Good Children is set in the future, in a dystopian world, but not too far away from ours. The story follows Max, a teen boy who is now looked down on because he is not super well off. He lives in a town called New Middleton, which is boasted about as being one of the best places to live in the US. But obviously, as readers, you can see very large cracks in this so-called perfect town. Max channels most of his time into his graffiti art; when he is not on his computer "RIG" or going to school. But then Max starts to notice that strange things are happening to younger students. They become slower, not all there, like their hearts aren't in anything, as well as being perfectly "good children." Max ultimately calls them zombie-fied. But the problem comes when his grade is "treated", and he has to pretend to be "treated" as well. And that gets harder and harder, as his family becomes in danger, and he must choose his fight against the loss of freedom. Will he stay under cover with his friends, or run away, never to come back? When the time comes, will he even have a choice?I will admit, this book took a little while for me to get into. I am not sure why, but I guess the beginning just wasn't very action packed. And as a girl, all the talk of sports was a little tiring. But, the plot was well thought out and the main characters were developed, and by the middle, I had to keep reading to find out what would happen to Max, Dallas, and his family. I thought the writing was spot on for a teenage boy, and the thoughts of Max in the book were well thought out too. Though my one big criticism was that (and maybe this only applies because i am a teenage girl) there was no teen girl in it. No love interest, no strong female character, just Max's mom (who Max got mad at all the time) and Ally, his little sister. There was a girl named Pepper i guess, but I was disappointed in how that turned out.Nonetheless, this was a very well written, detailed, and original dystopian novel, that outshines others in the genre that I have read. Kudos, Ms. Austen!
Krista23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow I did not know what to expect going into this story but was completely blown away with this book. Ok so I admit that through parts of it I was wondering where the story may be leading, the side characters became a little flat for me. But after finishing the story I realized that of course when people are being drugged to "behave" that of course they are going to become flat characters. Once this realization hit and I looked back over the story, color me impressed! I really enjoyed the idea, I loved the characters and/or what the characters ended up representing. For some reason my favorite part of the story was very close to the beginning when Max is explaining how due to a contamination in a town how the birth defects rose. The outcome of those defects truly sparked a lot of questions and interests inside of me. I found it facinating how all children are based on certain factors, like how well bred they were because of how rich the parents were. Ok ok I know that sounds like it could be set in todays world, but it's completely different here, a whole new level. I found it very interesting that the term "recall" was used for one of the lowest grades of people. Altogether a fascinating twist on people, life, our world and interactions with each other. It was a fantastic mix of Science Fiction and Dystopian. It brought up several of the same feelings and ideas in me that Divergent by Veronica Roth did.
hlilburn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Best Book of 2011: All Good Children by Catherine AustenNew Middleton¿s children are becoming frightfully obedient and their parents and teachers couldn¿t be happier. Something is wrong. Max, our delinquent yet loveable rebel cannot allow himself to become another zombie and he¿ll do anything to prevent it.All teens have got issues, but within their brains amazing things happen. Mood swings and rebellion are accompanied with creativity and innovation. This book describes the thoughts and feelings of a 15 year old boy in a very real way. With no father figure, he branches out to fill the void and prove he is a man. Austen shows great power in her research of teenage psychology.It goes along perfectly and proves many points in my Alternate Parent series I am currently on with BigWorldNetwork.com. Every article I write is answered with great examples in Austen¿s book. From brain development to hormonal fluctuations, this is book is full of solid themes and great characters.Another amazing factor is the integration of racial backgrounds. There are very few minority main characters in the YA genre and there need to be more. Yay to breaking free of objectified white women. It also furthers my belief that kids should not be forced to take behaviour modifying drugs. Moulding children is one thing, but forcing them to become something they are not is selfish and unmoral. I love Austen¿s take on this. She speculates what would happen if children suddenly became emotional robots and it isn¿t pretty. There is a bit of anti-American propaganda, but I¿m ok with it.I have a son who has behavioural issues, but I wouldn¿t change him for anything. He is arrogant, stubborn and vengeful, but he is also smart, artistic, logical and sensitive. I love him. I definitely saw apart of myself in Max¿s mother.Congrats to Austen on a book well done!
lawral on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All Good Children is a great book. The world that Austen has created really is a whole lot like ours could be in, oh, 50 years (or less). The majority of the population is desperately poor and living in cars they cannot afford to fuel. The (what we now call) middle class minority works in some capacity with the booming elder care industry. Everyone has an RIG that connects them constantly to entertainment, work, communication, whatever (ie, it's what iPad aspires to be). A chemical spill has created a whole region's worth of people born with physical deformities...that compete on a reality TV show. The cities are dangerous places, and everyone has moved to gated communities (actual communities rather than housing developments) for their own safety. That they've given up a whole host of civil liberties in exchange for that safety bothers almost none of them. They even give up the right to know what vaccinations are being administered in their children's schools and why their children suddenly have no discernible personalities. It's cool though, because they're just so darn well-behaved. Max is not well-behaved. He never has been, and if he has anything to do with it, he never will be. He, along with his best friend Dallas, struggle to maintain their own thoughts and personalities while pretending to be perfectly "good children." Their struggle was awful, but their friendship was great. The fact that Max's mom is Black and his father was white is not a constant issue, but it is an important one. In their own community, it is a non-issue (or it's supposed to be), but outside is another story. Without the visual aid of their father, Max's mom is always eyed with suspicion while traveling with Max and his sister Ally. Though it is published by Orca, it is not technically a hi-lo (high interest, low reading level). It's appropriate in both areas of measurement for the 12 and up set. It is, however, about a couple high school seniors and could be used as reading material for the same. I think it will be great for reluctant readers and dystopian lovers alike. Book source: ARC provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Max, Ally and his mother live in a city called Middleton. Middleton is one of the few places left in the US with a decent school system, safe streets, healthy people, and little crime. But the administrators of Middleton think it could be even better. What if they found a way to get rid of misbehavior in children. Now, we're not talking about just the big ones like arson and fighting, but even the little ones, like giggling in class and expressing an opinion. As this is slowly taking effect on the children of all ages, few seem to speak out against it. Max's mother is one of those few and they begin to hatch a plan to escape from the city.While, our main character is Max, I fell in love with his little sister Ally. Not the brightest in the bunch, she makes up for it in pure personality. Max, a fantastic graffiti artist, seems to be going through a fairly typical teenage angst stage that didn't seem overly original. The supporting characters tended to remain fairly flat throughout the book until they were effected by the new behavior "cure". Then they just turned into what Max calls zombies....a very appropriate name.The plot centers around Max and his family and a few of his friends, especially his best friend Dallas, and their lives as they make plans to escape without being zombified. The plan they hatch is intricate and simple at the same time and keeps the story moving as we watch the town slowly become more and more suspicious of the family. There were times when the story seemed to drag a little, but perhaps that was done on purpose to show you how hard it was for the family to make it through. As a concept the story was amazing.3.5/5
GRgenius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Can you imagine? A world where creativity is frowned upon and everyone is expected to simply line up, take their assignment and live life as they are told? Nah...never happen...right? I wouldn't be so sure. The world introduced by Ms. Austen isn't so far fetched. I mean, there are advantages to what they were trying to introduce....a more manageable society with potentially less crime and people living up to their supposed potentials. Not so bad.....well, except for that "supposed" part. I mean, whose to say what anyone is truly capable of achieving, good or bad, throughout the course of their natural life....but I for one would rather live in a world that the option to find out exists, as would Max. Max is not your typical "hero" in any sense of the word. He is simply a young man trying to find himself that expresses his frustrations and beliefs through his creative side, for better or worse. In this society, art is viewed more as a "worse". The freedom of expression that lies within its unframed borders is a scary prospect to the powers that be. I mean, if you're going to create a robot like civilization, you can't very well have people thinking for themselves....it'd never work; hence the battle begins for both our free will and our very lives. The storyline here is not merely that of our wills or freedom of speech though....it also has undercurrents of racism, prejudice, and discrimination. It's amazing how such a forward thinking group of people can have such backwards thoughts about human kind as a whole....a fact which is addressed rather tactfully as events progress. Over half of the population can't read or write....how scary is that? Again though, how far is it from the truth depending on where you look today? It's not all doom and gloom though as the author injects a bit of real life humor into the story with the personalities given to each character as well as how they act out from time to time. In short, a fictional look at a reality that may not be so far away with the possible repercussions we could face should the same steps of "progress" be taken. It's enjoyable from a make believe stand point, but also gives you something to really think about. We are so dependent on technology as a civilization and expect things to go just so....how much of a leap is it really to a time when we dictate the path that others must follow in their lives for the sake of smooth sailing?
skstiles612 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the town of New Middletown things aren't what they seem. Th children have undergone "The New Education Support Treatment". Now the kids are obedient. If I can say this, they are too obedient". My husband laughed when I told him I had a few students that could use a little bit of the treatment.. Max comes across as quite rebellious at times. I was reminded (due to my advanced age) of the movie "The Stepford Wives". If you are too young to remember this movie then I would suggest you look it up. In this book there is never any doubt how much Max loves his family and the length he will go to just to protect them. When his mom is threatened with the removal of her kids, major decisions must be made. It was scar to see the parallel between the government control on schools, education, and families in the book and that of our very own society today.I would recommend this book to all dystopian lovers. I think this could hold its own in a competition with some of the most popular dystopian novels today.
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Max, Ally and his mother live in a city called Middleton. Middleton is one of the few places left in the US with a decent school system, safe streets, healthy people, and little crime. But the administrators of Middleton think it could be even better. What if they found a way to get rid of misbehavior in children. Now, we're not talking about just the big ones like arson and fighting, but even the little ones, like giggling in class and expressing an opinion. As this is slowly taking effect on the children of all ages, few seem to speak out against it. Max's mother is one of those few and they begin to hatch a plan to escape from the city. While, our main character is Max, I fell in love with his little sister Ally. Not the brightest in the bunch, she makes up for it in pure personality. Max, a fantastic graffiti artist, seems to be going through a fairly typical teenage angst stage that didn't seem overly original. The supporting characters tended to remain fairly flat throughout the book until they were effected by the new behavior "cure". Then they just turned into what Max calls zombies....a very appropriate name. The plot centers around Max and his family and a few of his friends, especially his best friend Dallas, and their lives as they make plans to escape without being zombified. The plan they hatch is intricate and simple at the same time and keeps the story moving as we watch the town slowly become more and more suspicious of the family. There were times when the story seemed to drag a little, but perhaps that was done on purpose to show you how hard it was for the family to make it through. As a concept the story was amazing. 3.5/5
Lawral More than 1 year ago
All Good Children is a great book. The world that Austen has created really is a whole lot like ours could be in, oh, 50 years (or less). The majority of the population is desperately poor and living in cars they cannot afford to fuel. The (what we now call) middle class minority works in some capacity with the booming elder care industry. Everyone has an RIG that connects them constantly to entertainment, work, communication, whatever (ie, it's what iPad aspires to be). A chemical spill has created a whole region's worth of people born with physical deformities...that compete on a reality TV show. The cities are dangerous places, and everyone has moved to gated communities (actual communities rather than housing developments) for their own safety. That they've given up a whole host of civil liberties in exchange for that safety bothers almost none of them. They even give up the right to know what vaccinations are being administered in their children's schools and why their children suddenly have no discernible personalities. It's cool though, because they're just so darn well-behaved. Max is not well-behaved. He never has been, and if he has anything to do with it, he never will be. He, along with his best friend Dallas, struggle to maintain their own thoughts and personalities while pretending to be perfectly "good children." Their struggle was awful, but their friendship was great. The fact that Max's mom is Black and his father was white is not a constant issue, but it is an important one. In their own community, it is a non-issue (or it's supposed to be), but outside is another story. Without the visual aid of their father, Max's mom is always eyed with suspicion while traveling with Max and his sister Ally. Though it is published by Orca, it is not technically a hi-lo (high interest, low reading level). It's appropriate in both areas of measurement for the 12 and up set. It is, however, about a couple high school seniors and could be used as reading material for the same. I think it will be great for reluctant readers and dystopian lovers alike. Book source: ARC provided by the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program