GOODHOUSE

PrintE-mail Written by Fred McNamara

BOOK REVIEW: GOODHOUSE / AUTHOR: PEYTON MARSHALL / PUBLISHER: FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

As bloody as it is bland, Peyton Marshall’s debut novel, Goodhouse, concerns James, a seventeen year old born with possible criminal genes which results in his permanent residence in the deadly correction facility known as Goodhouse. On the day he and several other inmates have their ‘community day out’ into the real world, his once static life turns to turmoil when he accidently steals a barrette.

Escape from Goodhouse becomes inevitable in the story’s context, but what with the Mule Creek State Prison standing right next door to Goodhouse, and the maniacal religious order called the Zeros ready to pounce and purify anyone emerging from Goodhouse, James may have more on his plate than he bargained for…

If only Goodhouse was written as well as its plot sounds. Marshall’s manner of storytelling has a murky yet rather plain flavour to it. Arguably, the simple moodiness of the storytelling (Goodhouse is told from James’ perspective) enhances the mollycoddled nature of its central character, yet it does make for some occasional uninspired reading. Marshall’s manner of depicting descriptions and feelings have touches of grave and originality, but it’s rarely consistent.

The story itself, split into four sections, makes for some immensely slow-burning reading, but it’s strange then that such a novel can combine some rather careful pacing with almost non-stop action and adventure that manages to delight, no matter how gritty.

Goodhouse is still a highly entertaining and grizzly read – its set-up of plot and characters feels most movie-worthy - but in this world of post-Hunger Games fiction, one can argue that Goodhouse takes more than a few cues from that franchise. For anyone expecting the next big thing in young adult fiction, you may be wise to move along the bookshelf. But for anyone wanting an intriguing take on how we control our youth, as well as an action-packed story to go with such takes, Goodhouse is highly recommended.
 

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