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Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Futuretrack 5 examines the divisions within contemporary society: differences in educational background, personal wealth, class standing, technological ability, and employment status. These attributes determine who is privileged and who is underprivileged. Westall presents a future Britain where the wealthy Ests, or upper-middle classes, enjoy a pleasant and luxurious existence at the expense of the underclass Unnems who live a life of urban violence and poverty. This country is obviously a fantastic anti-utopia where advanced technology and military police keep the general public under control. But in this depiction of a horrible tomorrow, we can see how our own prejudices influence and divide people. These biases often determine how we run our schools, colleges, courts, and police forces. Futuretrack 5 examines the conflict from a democratic point of view, one with great sympathy for individual human needs.

The main character Henry Kitson finds he, like many in their late teens, must make choices that will seriously influence his adult life. But Kitson is an over-achiever and dissatisfied with the limits and formality of his totalitarian world. The rebellion of adolescence achieves heroic significance in this novel, for it, through Henry, becomes a force for change for the better, a force that desires freedom for all people regardless of class, wealth, or education. The story of his quest presents plenty of exciting action and suspense tempered by serious moral concern.

Futuretrack 5 celebrates the possibility of individual action against a repressive society. Although the success of this effort may be in doubt, Westall defines the need for personal awareness of and responsibility for the repressive tendencies of our industrial and technological system. The novel speaks out for young people as well, railing against the professional labeling that begins in high school with its evaluation of the vocational-technical and the college-preparatory tracks for students. Westall believes democratic values provide freedom in the real world and that we must all be aware of the encroaching technology that threatens to take away our individual rights.