Five students, all friends, from a Science and Technology Scholar Program (now eliminated because of school district funding shortfalls) band together in a money-making project to produce a small, portable truth-detecting device guaranteed to revolutionize the world. At the time they are working on their invention, society is a mess under the President’s despotic rule. Ordinary people are jobless, hungry, homeless while those with wealth and power enjoy life to its fullest at their expense. Our five inventive, idealistic (but totally naive) students theorize that once their product is widely available, they will not only become rich themselves but politicians will no longer be able to lie to hide their crimes. The resulting revolution, which they envision as peaceful, will lead to a society in which everyone tells the truth and dissension and discord disappear. Ah, youth! Would that it were that easy, right? Suffice to say that our young inventors discover the complexity of human nature and societal problems as they work toward resolving their own family and relationship issues.
This is a wildly exciting story that strains credulity in many parts but is guaranteed to keep its readers racing through to the last page. There’s a lot of violence as the President moves to seize control of the device and destroy those who refuse to surrender it to her, and yet more violence as it’s made freely available to people who (big surprise) abuse it, but it’s nothing more than what you’d expect from any sci-fi/fantasy book of this sort. There are some mild sexual references. Most of the flagged language consists of variations of “hell,” “damn,” and, of course, “bullshit,” all of which seem to have become commonplace in today’s vernacular. If none of these are impediments, this book could lead to some interesting discussions about the value of truth-telling and its role in society.