Saturday, October 26, 2013

An Adventuresome Duo

Since I loved Divergent this summer I decided I would do well to branch out and read more books in genres that I do not naturally gravitate toward.  Hence adventure books!  I am not an adventurous person- adventure makes me nervous. But here are two good adventure books that I thought went well together.  Both are, well adventurous, both are about teenage boys making tough decisions and trying to navigate right and wrong when most of the adults in their lives aren't doing such a good job in that area.  Both could be called political thrillers.

First up is First Boy by Gary D. Schmidt.  One of my favorite books of all time is Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. A book of historical fiction which garnered Mr. Schmidt the Newbery Honor in 2005.  

Strange things are happening in the rather ordinary life of 14 year old Cooper Jewett.  Black sedans are showing up in the sleepy New Hampshire town where Cooper lives on his grandfather's farm.  It feels like he is being watched.  Despite this feeling Cooper goes on with his chores on the farm, he goes to school, he runs cross country, he watches after his grandfather, as they are both still reeling from the recenty death of Ida Jewett, Cooper's grandmother.   

Unexpectedly, Cooper's grandfather passes away and now Cooper is alone. No parents, no grandparents, not even a dog.  Cooper does have 64 cows that need milking and cleaning up after and Cooper is a tough kid, but can he really run a dairy farm by himself?  Cooper is determined to keep the farm going, keep up with his school work and show his neighbors and the social services that he can take care of things.  

Senator Wickham who is currently challenging the sitting President in a primary shows up at Cooper's school and offers him the opportunity to join the campaign.  Cooper is suspisious or the Senator's motives and feels too much loyalty to the cows and his grandparents legacy and bravely declines this offer.  Now very mysterious things are happening around the farm, broken fences and fires, break ins and black sedans showing up to watch him. Is Senator Wickham behind all this? What does he really want with Cooper?  

While this storyline was a bit odd, the well drawn characters and the suspensful pacing of the mystery made it a good, quick read and a great one to reccomend to those who like Alex Rider or the Gordon Corman books.  

If Cooper Jewett ever got to NY, I am certain that he and Zach Harriman would be fast friends.  

Zach is the main character in Mike Lupica's Hero.  Mr. Lupica is know for his sports novels, Heat is a favorite of mine.   

14 year old Zach seems to have a pretty great life in NY.  He lives with his parents, housekeeper and her daughter who is also Zach's best friend. They live in a brownstone on swanky Fifth Avenue, right near Central Park. Zach's mom spends a lot of time working at her family's charitable foundation and Zach's dad, works for the President, as in of the United States. Zach's dad is a hero, a confidante of the President who is called in to rescue hostages in foriegn lands or capture terrorists.  Everything is great until on the way back from a mission, the plane crashes and Zach's dad dies.  

Life without his dad is incredibly difficult for Zach.  His mom seems to be coping by throwing herself into her friend's campaign for President.  But something doesn't feel right to Zach, he starts to investigate his dad's death, believing his dad wouldn't never let his plane go down.  

Zach feels something in himself changing and its not just his grief.  He is suddenly strong, suddenly bold and feels the need to patrol Central Park at night to protect good people and fight the bad.  What does it mean to be a hero?  And what's with the old man who keeps following him? 

Does Zach suddenly possess super powers?  How does this all connect to his fathers death and what does it all mean to the campaign for the presidency?  

Cooper and Zach's lives go from ordinary to incredibly exciting. They go on adventures that border on the extreme and the strange.  They outwit law enforcement and government agencies.  And the both grow and learn to trust themselves, figure out which adults to trust,  and what it means to be trustworthy.  

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