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Thursday, July 30
My rating: ★★★★
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Date of publication: August 4, 2015
Age: Grades 4 - 6
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Themes: scientific discovery, virus/disease, bullies, friendship, environmentalism
Fifth-grader Tamaya and seventh-grader Marshall have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.
I liked this book, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. Which, really, coming from Louis Sachar, I shouldn't be, but there has been a lot of mixed reviews for this one. Mine is favorable and this is why: the pace and intensity of the action made it really hard to put down. The format of the book means that the majority of it takes place only over a couple of days—which each chapter reminds you with a time stamp. But then, Sachar puts in some random flash-fowards from a U.S. Senate investigation that reveals just enough jaw-dropping information to keep you glued to it. It's super suspenseful!
Granted, with the rushed storyline, there isn't a whole lot of character development. And since the whole book, practically, is leading up to the climax, the ending is a bit abrupt. But I think that it works. It's no Holes, so stop wishing it was. It's just a fun, suspenseful read that I think kids will really enjoy. I recommend it.
Find it at your library or on Amazon
(Digital ARC provided through NetGalley)