Sunday, November 14, 2010

Truancy by Isamu Fukui

I was really impressed with this book.  Especially when I realized it was written by a high school boy.  But, like he says, "I need to be in school myself, if I want to write about it."  I hope the high school he writes about in Truancy is nothing like the high school he attends.  The high school in District 20 is one of many schools in an experimental city where the goal is to basically harass students into submission.  As Tack, the main character says, "He couldn't remember ever feeling hopeful before."  Students are not allowed to speak unless spoken to -- not even during breaks.  The tests are mostly unfair and designed to make students at least frustrated, if they don't fail. 

The Educators are the leaders of this city and they control education, as well as everything else in the city.  They are allowed to make any arbitrary laws to suit their purpose.  When a subversive group of students, called the Truancy, begins to disrupt the orderly flow of business, and then even begins to murder Educators and other government employees, the Mayor becomes concerned.  Tack, our main character, is just trying to make it through school.  But when his sister is murdered by the Truancy, Tack vows to revenge her death.  He has been trained in swordsmanship and martial arts by his friend, Umasi, who is a pacifist and doesn't agree with what the Truancy is doing.  But, Tack joins the Truancy to find his sister's killer.

This book is very exciting and action packed.  I believe the author, Isamu Fukui, may have a future in choreographing martial arts scenes for movies.  The descriptions of the fight scenes are colorful and detailed.  Possibly too detailed for me, but I would suspect these scenes would have great appeal to many teen boys.  As will the rebellious nature of the leaders of the Truancy.  There are, however, real moral dilemmas presented within the story.  When is it acceptable to kill?  Umasi must decide if he can kill one person in order to save many.  After discovering who his sister's killer is, Tack has a difficult time deciding to keep his vow. 

There is a lot worth reading and discussing here.  How close is our current school system to the one depicted in the book?  Could we ever get to that point?  What could students do to keep that from happening? This book was recommended to me by one of my students.  So, if you are going to recommend it, you can expect them to want you to read it to!

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