In the dystopian novel Unfavorables, it’s the year 2040 and President Washburn’s mission is to “normalize” the Union—the most prominent republic in the United Republics of America. Part of the normalization process means that a mandatory Behavioral Thought Exam be administered to kids before the age of fourteen. Those identified as Unfavorables receive an eye chip that allows the government to monitor their night thoughts—the thoughts that are the essence of our behaviors.
Fifteen-year-old Maggie is a special kind of Unfavorable. She failed the Behavioral Thought Exam at the age incredibly young age of nine. She’s the estranged daughter of a notorious Transgressor. And for six years, she’s been on medication that blocks her night thoughts, meaning her mind is vulnerable to outside influence. This combination makes the Girl with No Thoughts a valuable asset for youth rebels—who want to implant thoughts into Maggie’s chip and make her a symbol of youth terrorism.
When her best friend Melli convinces her to quit the medication and join the movement, Maggie must face internal and external struggles in order to answer challenging questions. Does pain heal pain? Does violence stop violence? Does terror end terror? Not knowing who to trust and who to fear, Maggie must rely on friendship and her night thoughts to survive. Even if it means suffering from loss and betrayal. Even if it means confronting someone from her dark past.
JM Butcher has his PhD in Literature. He teaches writing and literature at the college level, focusing his research on social justice, class struggle, and dystopian themes. Unfavorables is his debut novel.