The Rules Have Changed

Orca. (Orca Soundings). Jan. 2021. 120p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459826823.
Gr 6 Up–In a near-future world, Blake Pendleton returns from a three-year sailing trip with his parents to find his home country changed. School is now a militaristic brainwashing center. Students who do not obey the orders given to them through their smartphones are punished with extended solitary confinement. Xenophobia is rampant and Blake’s parents have to reapply for citizenship because they left the country for three years. He meets an Asian boy, Ming Zhao, and a Black girl, Gina, who are part of a loose organization of rebels called the “dogs.” Blake teams up with them to attempt to infiltrate the school organization but at the last minute, they are betrayed and must flee the country. This is a solid hi-lo novel for students who would enjoy 1984 or The Hunger Games but don’t yet have the reading skills to attempt them. The climax of the story feels rushed, but that is common in the hi-lo genre. Although the book could be seen as a possible extension of current events, a solid dystopian novel never goes out of style. No physical or cultural descriptions are given for Blake or his parents.
VERDICT This topical selection is highly recommended for those who maintain a hi-lo collection.

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