Review: Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall

What would happen if you could see clearly into the genetic makeup of your friends and family?

America at the end of the 21st century: 17-year-old James doesn’t even know what his real name is, though he feels if someone uses it one day, he'll know it’s his. Kindness to others is not an option at Goodhouse, a brutally run corrective school for boys with criminal genes.

Awaiting him over the barbed wires of the school are the Zeros, a religious group who aim to rid the planet of impure boys like those at Goodhouse. But for James, his greatest threat is not the fundamentalists outside. His dream of walking through the gates as a civilian may yet be destroyed by the much deadlier threat from within …

A bold, visionary tale of a foreseeable future where genetic profiling is meant to prevent crime, but instead becomes a tool for oppression, GOODHOUSE poses urgent questions about freedom and slavery and what it means to be alive.

*I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This is one of those books where I shouldn't have let myself get dragged in by a pretty cover. While the premises of the story looks interesting, the execution to me was lacking. It was an overall slow read and I had trouble concentrating thanks to the writing style of the author. Now that of course is something very personal, but to me the language and description were cumbersome and made it difficult for me to care about the characters or get dragged into the story.

So that was the biggest problem. I didn't really care about James. The injustice of putting boys into these goodhouses based on their genes, and mostly the treatment they get, I felt that horror, just not enough. It really just feels like a tale is being told to us and you go along for the most part because you want to know if something is going to happen. 

While there is a lot going on with James and around him, it wasn't easy to understand. James, in no way stands out from all the other boys. It seems to be luck that he was chosen to be the main character. At times I was more interested in his roommate Owen, because it seemed that he at least was going through some changes. James was never a bad guy, nor particularly a good one. He just did some stupid stuff and mostly he underwent the things happening to him. There was never any clear defiance against the upper powers.

A lot of things did not make sense to me or the purpose wasn't very clear. I missed a clear plot, now it seems to be just all over the place. While James held the premise of being an interesting character, we didn't get enough inside his psyche to really care. That was the issue, if I don't care about the main character, the rest doesn't make much sense either.


The Author
Born in 1972 in Pennsylvania, Peyton grew up in McLean, Virginia -- a wooded, leafy town that is now part of the sprawling DC metroplex. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Before enrolling in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Peyton spent many years remodeling houses.

​Her work is rooted in ideas about love and the potential brutalities of human life -- in the ways people misunderstand each other. Goodhouse is her first novel.
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