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BOOT CAMP by Todd Strasser


by Todd Strasser

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 22nd, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4169-0848-7
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Strasser explores the intriguing topic of militaristic boot camps, described as a secret prison system with 4,000 to 10,000 teens, but he undermines his effort with implausible characters and tedious violence. Narrator Garrett is an unlikely prisoner, an articulate genius incarcerated by his stereotypically heartless millionaire parents for having sex with his young math teacher. Her attraction to the self-absorbed adolescent, for which she loses her job and risks arrest for sexual abuse, is unconvincingly attributed to their mutual interest in manga and math. But teachers sexually exploiting minors comes across as harmless compared to the camp’s physical abuse and psychological manipulation. Garrett, often in solitary confinement, suffers repeated brutal beatings. The other teens are largely thuggish and one-dimensional. They have bad skin, poor math skills and meager vocabularies, even though their parents can afford to pay $48,000 a year for camp. Only the scene where Garrett helps two desperate teens escape provides relief from the well-intentioned but heavy-handed expose. (Fiction. YA)