I think I read this around 2000. It was a paperback book, which I'm pretty certain was labeled with "Book 1" of a series, although I only read part of this first one. It was set in a somewhat dystopic United States where the government exerted an oppressive control over the lives of citizens, in particular trying to keep teenagers from acting out or getting too independent. I have a vague memory that rock-and-roll had been banned and was therefore popular as an underground thing.

The more plot-salient part is that the other big outlawed activity was motorcycle racing. There were some special ones that ran faster than the others. I don't think the protagonist owned one, but he ran into one. Early in the book, one explodes; I don't remember if it killed or seriously hurt anyone. The protagonist finds out that other motorcycles of this type were exploding, killing off rebels. The motorcycles use sodium, I think as a cooling agent, but that resulted in explosive results if containment is lost. I think the protagonist found that the government was behind the motorcycles, introducing them and engineering "accidents" to get rid of ringleaders among the rebels.

The title of the book had some play on words on the "United States", but I don't remember exactly how it went.

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    Don’t get me wrong, I love your questions. I’m just thinking practically. Seeing as you have asked over 120 story ID questions to date, I hope you have started writing down what you read / watch! :-) – Praxis Jul 19 '18 at 14:24
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    ^_^ I keep better track these days, but a large number of them were 15-20 years ago... plus the sheer volume makes things tricky for anything past a year or two. – FuzzyBoots Jul 19 '18 at 14:25
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    @Praxis - maybe he shouldn't keep better track; well-written story-identification questions often lead to interesting reads for me - and presumably others - to add to "find and read" lists! :) – Jeff Zeitlin Jul 19 '18 at 15:02
  • And now that I remember the title, and have looked at the cover, I'm pretty sure I read this in the 1990s, when I lived in Ashland, KY, this book being from the Catlettsburg branch. – FuzzyBoots Jul 19 '18 at 16:30

I had a brain flash that the title might have been a pun on the "USSR" and came upon "U.S.S.A." by Tom DeHaven.

It happened without warning. A media blackout, a military coup, and suddenly the U.S.A. became the U.S.S.A. — the United Secure States of America. Whatever they called it, it was still a police state. Overnight, rock music was banned, movies were censored, and outspoken teachers began to vanish. Soon, any person who dared question the new authorities was in danger as well.

Eddie Ludlow was just a regular high school student in a small Ohio town, but he know that somebody had to stand up to the new government before America was lost. He also knew there had to be others like him. A small, secret band of rebels was born. They took the same name the new authorities had given America and made it their own.

A brave new series of America's freedom fighters of tomorrow!

One of the reviews for the second book by S. N. Lewitt (I guess I read more than I remembered) mentions the motorcycles:

Grade 6-8 Successful series create fans with a varied cast of characters, a tangle of unresolved plot lines, and nonstop action, none of which are in evidence in this second book in this series. Eighteen months after a successful military coup, the U. S. (now the "United Secure States of America") is drifting without much difficulty toward a restrictive society, complete with censorship, ``disappearances,'' and a sinister youth organization (the Young Patriots League). The trivial plot something about recruiting gang members into the YPL by offering them hot new motorcycles that have a dangerous design flaw advances at a leisurely pace, while teen-age Eddie and his friends, none of whom exhibit much strength or intelligence, look on with increasing anxiety. The villains behind it all are never identified and never appear. Several times people hint at some form of resistance, but Eddie is left on the outside, and so are readers. John Peters, New York Public Library

  • That's a pretty harsh review! You're not doing a good job of encouraging me to look it up. :) – DavidW Jul 19 '18 at 16:47
  • @DavidW: ^_^ Truthfully, I only have the vaguest of memories of it. It was apparently aimed at middle-schoolers, which may account for me not remembering reading at least two books of it, these books being less than 200 pages (I started reading 200+ page books somewhere halfway through elementary school, although my decision to read Battlefield Earth in Grade 4 was a mistake in retrospect). – FuzzyBoots Jul 19 '18 at 17:05

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