Fourteen year old Chase (please don't call her Charlotte) is pretty sure that visiting her grandmother is going be the most boring holiday ever, even if they are going to a tropical island. But what Chase doesn't know is that the island is about to come under attack. Soon Chase will trying to save herself, her grandmother and the entire island in the most exciting (and dangerous!) holiday of her life.
This is a rip-roarer of a book that starts in full throttle and does not slow down until the very last page. I was quite out of breath by the time I had reached the end (which I managed to do in record time as I did not stop at all!) I do not always read books in one go, but this one begged to be read in a single sitting.
The story line is light, unlikely, and full of adolescent over-reactions, but it is those very attributes that make it a fun and compelling read. The chapter numbers are all presented in an "explosion" graphic just in case the reader forgets that this is a thriller in the style of the best James Bond novels, full of random shootings, explosions and miraculous escapes! There is more than enough to keep the average hyperactive youngster enthralled as he or she follows Chase's hectic quest to save just about everybody.
As part of its subtext, the book also explores the relationship between seriously dysfunctional family members. Chase's grandmother is a delightful caricature of what a sweet old lady on amphetamines might look like, and her father seems bent on letting his daughter have her independence despite her young age and the high risk factor. Definitely not the father or grandmother that most teenagers have! It was a great relief to me that by the end of the book Chase had established "normal" family relationships once more!
I was so caught up in the story that I was annoyed when I encountered two typos right in the middle of the book. No doubt this was a proofing issue, but it is disconcerting when you meet one and have to stop and re-visit the sentence to check if you did read it correctly. Not that it stopped me for long - I was too keen to find out what would happen next.
The book cover is what one might expect from a graphic novel rather than a chapter book, and I can see this story translating well to that format and possibly to film as well. It has the same feel as many action movies and would probably appeal to a wider age range if it did make its way to the screen. Having enjoyed the book myself, I would definitely be interested to see what an innovative director could make of it.
So, in conclusion, I would like to urge everyone to read this book and whether you are aged 9-12, or indeed any age at all, suspend judgement and be prepared for a fun ride of non-stop action and excitement. Don't read it for its literary merit; read it for fun and the sheer enjoyment of a good yarn.
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