Saturday, December 28, 2019

YA Canadian Survival Story Keeps Me (Mostly) Riveted to the Page

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Every summer, the Crows and the Hoebeeks trek out to their remote, neighboring cabins in the wilderness of northern Ontario.  The same age, Nate Crow and Dodge Hoebeek have spent happy days together swimming, fishing, exploring, and canoeing.  Then, four months ago, Dodge and his father took a trip into the mountains alone; neither one came home.  Although Mr. Hoebeek's body was recovered, Dodge's has never been found.  Nate has made it his mission to find Dodge.  Something in him can't help but hope that maybe his old buddy is alive, just holed up somewhere awaiting aid.

Nate finally convinces his father he's skilled enough in wilderness survival to trek to the cabin without adult supervision.  When the friend who was supposed to accompany him gets grounded, Nate decides to make the trip alone without telling his parents he'll be going solo.  As soon as he arrives, he realizes he's in for more than he bargained for.  Several rough-looking men, whom he recognizes from the news as escaped convicts, have taken over his family's cabin.  Paralyzed with indecision, Nate can't fathom what to do next.  With an incoming blizzard making everything worse, he must rely on his instincts and the survival skills he's learned over the years to escape the mountain alive.

The Starlight Claim by Tim Wynne-Jones is an action-packed adventure/survival novel that will appeal to even reluctant readers.  There's enough going on to keep anyone's interest, although the flashback sections do slow down the story's forward momentum.  They humanize Dodge, who still seems like a jerk, but I'm not sure how much they actually add to the story.  The other chapters, though, are exciting enough to make up for the slow parts.  I saw the big reveal coming from a mile away, so that was a little disappointing.  Overall, though, The Starlight Claim is a decent action/adventure story that kept me (mostly) riveted to the page.

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Starlight Claim from Candlewick Press for the purpose of Cybils Award judging.  Thank you!

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