I read this book about 2-Jun-2008. This is the first time I've read this book. The book is copyright 2005. This note was last modified Sunday, 20-Jul-2008 08:20:11 PDT.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
For some reason it took forever to get through this; I never felt it was really the book's fault, but I had a lot going on personally and at work during a lot of the time, and just wasn't getting any concentrated reading time.
This is a "youngster brings down repressive society" book. Well, they don't actually bring it down, hence presumably the two sequels. But regardless of the outcome, that's the sub-genre it comes from. Reminded me a bit of some of the old pieces in the big two-volume anthology SFBC used to sell everybody when they signed up (A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, edited by Anthony Boucher) and other 50s and early 60s SF with collapse of civilization themes. (Those two volumes have been in the headboard of my bed for years, at this point I don't even remember what they're down here for. Maybe somebody else was reading them?)
Apparently those who run society like it better if they pretty much lobotomize most people. It makes them easier to control (cheerful, cooperative, and so forth). Luckily they can undo it if the person manages to show signs of interest in doing substantive work (like being a doctor). And the doctors who perform the operation don't actually know how the "lesions" are caused, even; something in the procedure they're taught must do it, but it's not obvious what.
Super plastic survery on everybody at age 16 is one way to solve the problem of people's lives being overly influenced by how they look. Make everybody beautiful! There's no discussion of how this works with slobs, people who don't bother to dress to impress, those who won't wear makeup, and so forth, though.
I'm skeptical of the assertion that all riverbeds have a high enough concentration of iron to make a magnetic repulsor work. Google hasn't found me any mention of the theory, not even a debunking, let alone a reason to believe it; it doesn't seem to be a theory in play anywhere I can find. But then I'm skeptical of the whole partial-antigravity aspect of the civilization (and of the hoverboards in particular). I think he had to invent limits to keep it from beeing too powerful, and then had to find a way to make wilderness travel possible.