Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: Stryker by M.M. Wheezee

****--4 Stars.
July 2013, 254 pages.
Source: from author for review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by anyone.

Amazon Description:
"Stryker" is a middle-grade novel, for ages 9 and up.
Since his mom died a few years ago, Harold Stryker has been following her instructions:
He lives all alone, in secret, in his house outside Los Angeles.
He avoids, as best as he can, other kids, and certainly grown-ups.
He keeps only his huge, gassy dog and his collection of power tools for company.
But he's okay with all that. Until the big night of the little earthquake. And his plunge into a dangerous forgotten tunnel beneath his dining room floor. And his encounter with the sweet, terrifying girl baseball star named Tien Tang and the compulsive, camo-suited, overweight force of nature known officially as Bella but universally as Blunt. They push and pull him through an underground adventure with a bullying science teacher, a tasteless chef, a greedy criminal, hairy tarantulas (live), sabertooth cats (long dead), smelly mushrooms, old trolley cars, new subways, and a baker's dozen of illegal Asian immigrants who need to be rescued from a life of slavery in a California ghost town. Harold Stryker is okay with all that too. But those two girls are now his friends. And that has him shaking.

My Review:
 I thought this was a very creative adventure book that both boys and girls would enjoy!! I loved how the story starts right out with a bang--literally. When a small earthquake hits, Stryker discovers a secret that will change his whole life as he knows it.

I remember reading The Boxcar Children when I was younger and thinking about how much fun it would be to live on my own--because I was obviously old enough to do so, right? Not. Harold Stryker (who prefers to go by his last night) is lucky enough to do just that. Well...maybe lucky isn't quite the right word, but regardless, he's on his own and he's only 12. Although Harold isn't a really deep character, his emotions show throughout this story, which really endears him to the reader. He's very resourceful and socially backwards, but he has some very genius ideas and is really a natural leader.

I loved how the story started out with Stryker's and then told about three girls and their experiences with that same earthquake and how it brought them all together. Tien (aka TNT or just plain T) was really delightful. She had some spitfire and yet she was very in tune with the feelings of those around her and was great at diffusing stressful situations--unless she was the one in the middle of them.

Bella Lunt, otherwise known as Blunt, reminded me of Peppermint Patty on The Peanuts cartoons. She was loud, crazy, bossy, and didn't quite know when to stop and let things drop, yet she was the push and shove behind a lot of their schemes. Things wouldn't really happen without her around.

Pakpao (or Oi) was a sweet trooper who really cared for others, even when they weren't very nice to her. I loved how they translated everything for each other.

I obviously loved the characters. The storyline kept me turning pages--it was so much fun and so different from anything I've read. I got the impression that another book with this group may be in the works--it didn't really end on a cliff hanger, but on more of a teaser. My only complaint would be there was a little more swearing than I would like to see for this target audience (middle grade).

Content: some cruelty (slavery); some language.


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