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The Subjects

As we got closer I could see behind the sandstone a curved concrete building: a purpose-built structure. But still no fence, no wire. Not a bar in sight. For this, I’d been told that morning, I should be grateful. This was a ‘lifeline…a last chance’. That is what the judge said.

Daniel is a sixteen-year-old drug dealer and he’s going to jail.

Then, suddenly, he’s not.

A courtroom intervention. A long car ride to a big country house. Other ‘gifted delinquents’: the elusive, devastating Rachel, and Alex, so tightly wound he seems about to shatter.

So where are they? It’s not a school, despite the ‘lessons’ with the headsets and changing images. It’s not a psych unit—not if the absence of medication means anything. It’s not a jail, because Daniel’s free to leave. Or that’s what they tell him.

He knows he and the others are part of an experiment.

But he doesn’t know who’s running it or what they’re trying to prove. And he has no idea what they’re doing to him.

About the Author

Sarah Hopkins is the author of three novels including The Crimes of Billy Fish, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. She works as a lawyer in Sydney and is married with two children.

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Text publication date:
4 June 2019
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Praise for Sarah Hopkins
andThe Subjects

‘Sarah Hopkins proves herself among the leading chroniclers of contemporary Australian life.’

‘This book can be read as a damning indictment of the social welfare and criminal justice systems.’

‘Raises a lot of issues that are worth reflecting on.’

‘Deeply human and utterly humane, The Subjects explores the utopian madness of social engineering in a way that reminded me of Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things

‘Energetic and compelling…it is a joy to read a book of such complex ideas that is also alert to the art of storytelling.’

Other editions ofThe Subjects