Monday, September 14, 2009

Module 1 Recent Award Winner: Godless By Peter Hautman

Title: Godless
Author: Peter Hautman
Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 25, 2005)
ISBN: 1416908161

Critical Analysis:
This book took an interesting view of a teen boy named Jay Bock belief's on religion. Jay decides he had enough of his traditional Catholic religion and sets out with his bestfriend Shin to create a new religion of worshiping water towers as gods. He calls his members "Chutengodian." Jay soon realizes the dangers that his beliefs pose on others in the group and tries to set things right.
The author did a good job with the text format but unfortunately I was not as engaged. This could be due to the story in general because I had a hard time of grasping the fact that they were worshiping water towers as gods. However, I could see why this book could be chosen by a teen to read. For example, the story does deal with social peer interactions, questioning of religion, parental disagreements, behavioral consequences, suicidal behavior and sexual intrigue.
I felt that the water tower worship was more of a back drop to the actual story line of peer relationships. This is represented in the way Jay picked some of his followers to compensate for his own weaknesses. For example, when Jay decided to make Henry a member who was a well know bully/tough to his peers, I felt his choice was based clearly on Henry's rebellion of authority and his physical strenghts. This was made clear when Henry showed Jay how to climb the water tower and Henry's aggression towards the police when he was questioned after the vandalism and accident at the water tower. Henry assured Jay that he would not "rat" him out.
The story did have bits of humor and suspense that would help keep teen readers engaged. For example, when Jay, Henry, Dan and Magda were inside the water tower swimming, Jay made the comment of a homeowner drinking some tap water in the night and saying it tasted like sweaty teenagers! One of the most suspenseful moments for me was when Jay's friend Shin lost touch with reality and was doing things that could have inadvertently lead to his death.
In conclusion, even though I did not particulary like or dislike this book, I feel the author's writing format made this story easy to follow. I did value the moral undertones that were present in the story. For example, in the end Jay had to try to right what he had done wrong which was difficult and I feel teens could relate to this.

Review Excerpts:

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2004):

"Fed up with his parents' Catholicism, Jay Bock, sixteen, decides that the local water tower will make as good a god as any. Within days Jay's cult has followers, and he is amazed by the results of his own game. The novel is sometimes superficial in its exploration of the nature of religion and faith, but Hautman's prose is brisk and colloquial, and young adults will respond to Jay's rebellion. Category: Older Fiction. 2004, Simon, 198pp, $15.95. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 2: Superior, well above average" Retrieved from Children's Literature Database (Accessed September 10, 2009).


National Book Awards, 2004.
Minnesota Book Award, 2005.
Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 2005

After searching on-line, I came across some discussion questions directly from the author's website. You can access these questions and other useful information that can be used in book clubs, discussions and/or programming ideas by clicking on: (accessed on September 10, 2009).

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