After 117 years of operation, the Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Ione, California, shuttered its doors forever. Inspired by lives rebuilt and destroyed by the school, Peyton Marshall’s Goodhouse imagines an alternate future in which the school never closed—and juvenile corrections are based not on past behavior, but genetic makeup.
Because of a genetic predisposition toward criminality, James—along with other children like him—is legally required to live in a prison-like school from infancy to high school graduation. In their attempts to reform these possible criminals, the Goodhouse school system has no qualms about degrading, drugging and brainwashing its students. Their suffering is recounted in terse, bleak language by Marshall, a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.
Though he’s still haunted by attacks at his last school, carried out by a terrorist organization bent on destroying those with criminal genetics, James is on his way to graduating fully reformed—until a girl opens his eyes to what the Goodhouse system and the terrorist organization really have in store.
Goodhouse moves like a thriller, slowly leaking secrets and keeping the reader in the dark. James is more of a vessel for the larger story than a complex character for the reader to dissect. He is quick to anger and often makes rash decisions. Marshall has no problem bruising and bashing him to further the story.
While depth is not found in James, the story is a tangled web of conspiracies, hidden motives, selfish acts and lies. Each new revelation moves in tandem with the others, gaining strength and excitement until the final crescendo.