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Grade 6-10-A school-shooting incident in nearby Pleasant Valley causes
Tom's high school administrators to be worried about a ripple effect. A
crisis counselor is hired and a watchdog atmosphere grows as the teens'
privileges rapidly disappear. Tom and his sophomore classmates are
annoyed but not overly concerned about the new security restrictions
until they notice eerie disappearances of friends who fail to conform,
including Tom's two best friends. The random drug tests, backpack
searches, parental e-mail, and dress codes soon expand into
mind-controlling daily assemblies, book censorship, and camps for
"behavior" problems. After a tip from a Pleasant Valley basketball
player, Tom is convinced that students everywhere are being sent away
and hopes his father hasn't also been brainwashed via the e-mails from
the school authorities.