The Good Citizen – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest
Joël Henning Doty
Joël Henning Doty’s The Good Citizen takes place in a futuristic society where all citizens are required by the powerful Govencorp to carry and use firearms called Protectors. Jenny, a life-long citizen, treasures the rigid rules of her society and aspires to be a safety officer when she grows up. Hannah, on the other hand, is a new inductee and has reservations about the use of Protectors and society’s discrimination against her and her fellow immigrants. When these two girls meet, Jenny and Hannah will be forced to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew about what it means to be a good citizen.
The Good Citizen’s only notable drawback is that there isn’t more of it. Additional details about this fascinating, yet terrible society would only be a bonus—one that readers would certainly eat up after reading this book. That’s not to say, though, that what’s already in The Good Citizen isn’t enough, because it certainly is in many ways. The societal structure represented in this book is reminiscent of other popular young adult novels like The Giver or Divergent, but with a unique, modern-day twist that is absolutely captivating.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect about this young adult novel is how Joël Henning Doty seamlessly blends prevalent issues from today—consumerism, surveillance, immigration, protesting, and guns—into a narrative that is simultaneously innovative and age-appropriate. The characters are well-rounded and well-developed and the plot itself is eerily believable, only serving to draw the reader in even more. The Good Citizen is a thrilling, thoughtful, poignant novel that will leave its readers with lots to ponder and discuss. One can only hope that there will be sequels to The Good Citizen in the future, since this is a book that certainly deserves and inspires them.
Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.