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The Destiny of Linus Hoppe    by Anne-Laure Bondoux order for
Destiny of Linus Hoppe
by Anne-Laure Bondoux
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2001)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Linus Hoppe lives at home with his parents and sister Mieg in Realm One and the Protected Zone. All that could change in three months when he takes his end-of-year exams, given by the Great Processor. Linus travels on the ZIP through tunnels established by the Trans Urban Company. Ever present is the sickly-sweet smell of vanilla vapor, which covers odors from the subterranean Industrial Zone.

Linus's friend Chem, a computer genius, takes pleasure in practical jokes. When Linus opens his laptop, it greets him with 'Hello Linus, my little cookie.' Linus asks Chem, 'why don't you target someone else?' Chem replies, 'Anyone else would beat me up! You're the only one at school who still has a sense of humor!' School morale is low as tension mounts over the upcoming exams. A score of 150 or more allows the student to remain in Realm One. Those with less than 150 will have to leave the Protected Zone, enter Realm Two or Realm Three, and work in the Industrial Zone. Those in Realm Three are badly treated - some make it back to One after re-education, but others disappear.

Fourteen-year old Linus expects to score high, as his grades are excellent. His parents are both brilliant with lucrative employment, and older sister Mieg hopes to be admitted into the prestigious Order of Great Builders. One day, Linus feigns illness and stays home for a chance to think. He sends the following email over the World Exchange Forum: 'Subject: Accident - Seeking correspondent (preferably around fourteen years old, living in France) who has had one or more accidents, and who can tell me how this has affected their life.' Replies include: 'I liv in a suburbin zone. I'm fourteen, My name is Yosh, My axident hapened when I was 2 ... somthing brok inside my head ... Since then I hav trouble in scool'. Linus had been questioning why people in the different Realms don't mix, and the standard answer he gets is that others are 'too different'.

Linus travels into Realm Two to meet Yosh Bresco. He is introduced by Yosh to Mr. Zanz, a computer whiz, who lives in the same building. Mr. Zanz has secrets, including the reasons behind Industrial Zone demonstrations against the establishment, and why he made the choice to live in Realm Two. Yosh, Chem, Meig, and Linus become involved in a circle of mystery as Linus decides to 'control his destiny', beginning with his scores on the exam. Suspicions of Mr. Zanz's activities are raised when Yosh overhears a conversation, including threats against the three residents of Realm One. The story spins into suspense, fear, and confusion about deciding to control the future. The participants are very much aware that the latter activity is illegal, and subject to punishment.

Anne-Laure Bondoux has won prizes for varied genres of youth novels. The Destiny of Linus Hoppe is an exceptional story, centering on the division of social classes in a technology-controlled utopian world, and the determination of some to change what is. The reader cheers for Linus and his friends. A sequel, The Second Life of Linus Hoppe, features their continuing fight for freedom. I recommend Bondoux's book, with a caution to the reader to expect surprises.

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