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.

So this is – at least partly – a YA version of Twenty-Thirty. Sadly the world building drops off for a hurried teen version of Prison Break mixed with a sport (football) story.

Main character Bo (short for Bono), is the odd one out. In a super safe, barely criminal, society, he’s the one with half of the family in jail and a grandfather that keeps bringing up illegal things. Bo has an anger problem and that puts him into trouble: an one way trip a correctional facility.

Life there is brutal and monotonous, but of course he manages to become part of an elite team pretty soon. And this team does illegal things: play something called football, without any protection. This looks like the right place for some Life Lessons, but Pete Hautman seems to be to enthralled by explaining several football maneuvers.

The second half and ending seems to be a bit rushed, which really breaks the initial fun down. Not bad, not very good either.

Rash, Pete Hautman, Simon & Schuster 2006

Twenty Thirty

It was a normal day, or so it seemed.

Yikes. It’s not unknown that in the United States of America some things are just plain crooked. Health care and its cost, the 1% that seems to have forgotten all about humanity and sharing, dodgy things happening in taxes and so on. Twenty Thirty takes this and runs with it, painting a  cruel world in which the have and have-nots can be defined by a very clear line: age.

There are different story lines with characters on different sides. A few of the rich are young as well, a few of the (almost) poor are old, but even those that could be able to understand each other, stay at both sides of the line.

In 2030, big bucks have turned into small bucks. Tens of thousands of dollars for surgery, thousands dollars for a meal for two at a fancy restaurant. The country is in huge debt and its population gets grayer and grayer because of the discovery of some important (mostly cancer) cures. America is on a slowly dripping vaccine of money yet it’s never enough. When natural disaster hits, the relationship between young and old turns even worse.

As a twenty-something, some parts of Twenty Thirty made me nauseous. Not only the complete lack of (financial) future for the young ones, but also because age groups ruthlessly being pitted against each other. Some parts were more horrifying than any zombie-tale could come up with.

Twenty Thirty paints a bleak story. Hopefully it inspires more change than any politician.

Twenty Thirty: the real story of what happens to America, Albert Brooks, St. Martin’s Press 2011