Finished: Dec. 23, 2011
First Published: Sep. 1, 2010
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: children, mystery
Twelve words were painted in gold ink on the wall of an office in Dearborn, Michigan: Survival of the fittest is a deadly game.Acquired: Received a review copy from Scholastic Canada.
Reason for Reading: I really only read this because I had received a review copy in the mail. I don't think it would have normally appealed to me otherwise.
I'm sorry it took me so long to read this book as I really enjoyed it. I love mysteries, as an adult, but don't usually read kid mysteries often except as read alouds and then I stick with tried and true authors I already know. Blue Balliett is new to me, so I haven't read her other critically acclaimed books but if this is only a sample of her work then I know I'm in for a treat reading her backlist.
This was a fun, exciting mystery based on a real missing item. Mixing science, history and mystery together with real life issues such as having only one parent or being raised by grandparents this is a gripping story and mystery. Add quirky characters and humour and you get a great book. One of the fun things about the book is that it is written in short chapters that vary in length, to as short as one page. Interspersed between the chapters is a kid produced newsletter that gives details of someone's life and asks the reader to guess "who am I?" in each issue.
While the mystery and side stories are entertaining, it is the two main characters that make the book. First is Zoomy, a half-black boy being raised by his white grandparents who has never met his real parents and has Pathological Myopia. He also has obsessive and anxiety issues making him a truly quirky character. When he meats his new friend she nicknames him Brain Boy. The other character is Firecracker Girl, Zoomy's nickname for her, until he learns her real name is Lorrol. Lorrol is loud, says what she wants as soon as it comes to her head and always on the go. She lives with her mother, a bad speller (just look at her name!), and doesn't even know who her father was/is. These two make a great team and are endearing characters.
One small caveat. As a Christian I did have a slight issue with one of the topics, which I can't mention because of the mystery, being Catholic it wasn't that big a deal to me, as it may be to some others, but the author was pushing her opinion against a religious one and I found one of her arguments of 'truth' to be fallacious.
Otherwise I am looking forward to reading Ms. Balliett's backlist and glad to have found such an exciting new-to-me author.