By Pete Hautman
Report by Aubrey DeBraal
The year is 2074...
In the book Rash by Pete Hautman, A lot of things have changed about the United States. For one thing, it isn't even called USA anymore, the name has changed to USSA, the United Safer States of America. In the USSA you can't so much as walk out of your house without wearing a helmet and if you want to go for a run you have to strap on pads that cover most of your body and run on the track which is made of a material known as Adzorbium and is much like running on memory foam. If you think that's bad, it gets worse: fast food, football, alcohol, guns, large dogs, even body piercings are all illegal.
Rash is a book about sixteen-year-old Bo Marsten. Bo's family has a criminal history, his dad is spending time in a work camp beheading shrimp because he was convicted of road rage. His brother Sam is patching roads in Nebraska because he yelled at someone. And his grandpa illegally brews beer in their basement, but hasn't been caught yet. The way the system in the USSA works is that once you get three strikes against you you can go to a work camp or prison. Bo already has two strikes. Bo lives with his mother and his grandfather and his grandfather constantly complains about how bad things are now and how much better they were when he was a kid, his mother seems fairly distant and worries about Bo's dad and brother.
Bo's favorite thing to do is run. His least favorite thing is Karlohs Mink. He actually hates just about everything about Karlohs. He especially hates when his girlfriend, Maddy, talks to Karlohs. He tries hard to keep himself from saying rude things to Karlohs or hitting him because that would be his third strike and then he'd have to go to a work camp just like his father and brother. Bo takes his doses of Levulor (a medicine that slows down the processes of the brain and gives him an extra fraction of a second to think before acting) and tries to control himself. One day Karlohs challenges Bo to a race to see if Bo can beat Karlohs's time for the 100 meter run. Before the race starts, Karlohs tells Bo that he talked to Maddy and that upsets Bo. Bo loses the race and calls Karlohs a bad name and is later sent to the principal's office. The principal just gives him a warning and sends him away.
A few days later Bo and Karlohs bump shoulders on the way into class and Bo calls Karlohs another bad name and Karlohs gets a bad rash. Everyone blames Bo for the rash and he is sent home and is quarantined. While he is at home he works on his Artificial Intelligence program. He has created a little troll and named it Borkmeister and he has to train Bork to have conversations with a human and convince them that he is also human. Bork is not very intelligent.
Later on the principal reviews the tape and finds out that Bo called Karlohs another bad name and he reports him to the FDHHSS (Federal Department of Human Health and Safety Services). Bo has to attend court and the judge tells him that if he acts up between then and his 19th birthday then he'll be going to jail. Later that day he goes to the mall to find Maddy. He finds her there... with Karlohs. He tries to control his anger but he punches him.
Bo is sent to a work camp in the northern USSA it is surrounded by barbed wire fence, cold tundra, and polar bears. The plant he is being sent to work at makes pizza. He gets his room assignment and finds out that he will be rooming with a nearly 400 pound boy nicknamed Rhino.
Within the first week, Bo finds out that the owner of the plant, Hammer, is allowing the boys to play football and has even made his own team, the Goldshirts. He also finds out that he has two-million V-Bucks bet on a game between the Goldshirts and the Redshirts at another plan.
Bo attends tryouts for the football team and is one of the fastest out there, he makes the team and begins going to practices. The team gradually gets better and better. One day while Bo is in the locker room Bork pops up on the Wind-O screen. He tells Bo that he could find a way to get him back home.
There are so many injuries during the game between the Redshirts and Goldshirts that it is called a draw and rescheduled for six weeks. Bork contacts Bo again and tells him he'll act as his lawyer, Bo changes Bork's appearance so he looks like a human and not a troll. Bork addresses himself as Bo's lawyer, I. B. Orkmeister. Bork tells Hammer to let Bo go or he will tell the court that he is allowing the boys to play football. Hammer agrees to let Bo go at dawn.
At dawn Hammer opens the gate and lets him out. That's it. There isn't a plane there or a bus so he has to walk 26 miles to the nearest town in polar bear infested tundra. He is about a mile away when a polar bear attacks, a man comes and saves him, Bo wakes up in the hospital. A plane comes for him and he is reunited with his mother and Gramps at his house.
What did you enjoy about the book?
I really like reading about the future because I'm curious as to what gadgets we will have and it's interesting to see what others think we will have. I'm also curious as to how much government or laws will change and Rash took place in the future and they had different gadgets and the laws and government was different.
What was the genre of the book?
Rash is a fictional book.
If the book was well written, what made it that way?
I thought Rash was very well written. I liked the way Pete Hautman described things from Bo's point of view. I also really like how Bork communicates with Bo in some chapters.
Why would you reccomend this book?
I would recommend this book because it is very suspenseful and full of action. I think that even if you enjoy books about sports you would like this book because of all of the football that takes place inside of it. I also think that those who enjoy reading futuristic books would enjoy it a lot also.