Futuretrack 5 By Robert Westall - My Review

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

A personal review and my thoughts on the book Future Track 5 By Robert Westall.
I analyse various symbolism ect.

Robert Westall Creates a very involving, gruelling vision of a futuristic dystopian society rife with symbolism and carefully placed phrases to illustrate a fractured, corrupt world within the clutches of fascism. I will talk about the many facets of meaning in his words and style of writing, emphasising certain patterns and analysing symbolism.


A recurring theme in the novel is the main character; Henry Kitson being controlled and manipulated by the systems in place in this society. Every part of his world is controlled and regulated with seemingly unbreakable laws and ideals to follow without question or thought. For example, early on in the novel; when Kitson is waiting for his exam results, he is also being assessed on his attitude and every single move as well as the raw results of the exam. This shows that every Est is psychologically shaped and moulded to how the people above them want them to behave or what they should or shouldn’t be feeling or thinking. This makes the reader feel like everyone is put through a sausage machine for values and morals. Every aspect of the world Kitson lives in is controlled, even the most fundamentally natural things. For example, later on in the novel, he encounters a nature reserve watched by lethal turrets and CCTV.

Robert Westall uses Kitson as a window to look through at a society whose every move has been pre-packaged and laid out in front of it to follow in an unaware, submissive state.

Another ever-present theme throughout is constant surveillance similar to ‘1984’ by George Orwell and his notion of ‘big brother is watching’.

Psycopters are something there throughout Kitson’s journey, they are a source of paranoia for everyone in society “…the discreetly weaving Psycopter…drop dead, bastards, bastards…” “Discreetly weaving” suggests that they are always there, prowling like tigers, on the watch ready to strike. “Drop dead bastards!” connotes that the people hate them, but know that they could never win against the Psycopters, so resort to cultural games to mock the elephant in the room, the Psycopters. Fenmen are simple people living in rural, tight-knit communities that qualify for a perfect reality TV show for Ests to be entertained by. The Fenmen do not know they are watched by millions, as the cameras used to film their daily lives are hidden in flypapers. The fact that the cameras are concealed in such an inconspicuous object, illustrates to the society that you may be watched, even if you don’t realise you are being, observed constantly.


Another prominent concept in Futuretrack 5 is that no matter how rich or important you are, on every level of society from Unems to Ests, you are hopelessly trapped. The Unems are knowingly trapped in a physical prison with watchtowers and deadly turrets, but even on a very subtle scale, the Ests are also trapped in a non-physical ‘prison of the mind’. Westall suggests that the Ests are unknowingly subject to their government, thinking that they are privileged. When Kitson meets his father briefly, he realises that everybody in that society is trapped and unable to see that they are. Westall describes this feeling by annunciating that they are just “…a rarer kind of monkey living in a lusher cage”. The word “monkey” suggests that the government bodies above everyone think of those below them as their subjects under the intruding gaze and steel fist of surveillance and control. This theme of entrapment is persistent throughout the novel, with Idris eyes (note that Idris sounds similar to iris) are described as “on each side set in a CAGE of white bone a small green eye cold as marble” The word “cage” links back to the idea of entrapment, while in many cultures the eyes are seen as ‘windows to the soul’. Westall could be suggesting that the very essence of a human; the soul, is trapped in a cage of bone or death.

Westall’s dismembered dystopian society of surveillance and fear is in fact displaying its characteristics in the modern society. On the eighth of June 2013, an almost Orwellian truth was unveiled by global news that astounded the world and sent a shockwave that struck at the heart of the notion of freedom. It was uncovered that internet services commonly used like Facebook, Gmail, Skype etc. were regulated and observed by government operators. This relates both to Futuretrack 5 and 1984. In both novels, there are strong, prominent themes of being watched through the eyes of Paramils, and Big Brother in 1984. The idea of governments not being honest is a concept inspired by predicted and current ideas in today’s society. The authors help to create a feeling and sense of betrayal and untrustworthiness on a very significant scale in the reader’s minds.


Robert Westall delivers a huge insight into what a dystopian society would be like, with well thought out characteristics and a symbolic approach. Could any of the topics in the novel be bleeding through into our society? Reality TV shows, military unmanned drones, and the uneasy feeling that seeps from the webcam in your laptop…are we tracked and watched, put through a web of security systems compromising our privacy? It’s up to you to decide what you think…

Submitted: July 25, 2013

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