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Jack: Secret Vengeance (Young Repairman Jack Series #3)

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  • Posted March 14, 2012

    So Jack

    The entire three book series of "young" Jack books is well worth the read for fans of "adult" Jack's adventures. My only complaint about this book in particular is that its the last of the young adventures. Wilson captures the era of Jack's youth well by using music and tech references that gave me a chuckle. He somehow switches seamlessly to an adolescent mind-set from the adult books while keeping the integrity of the characters. Best of all, we unexpectedly meet a few characters from the adult books and get a glimpse of their beginnings. Wish there were more.

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great mystery, cool paranormal elements

    This book is the third in a series of YA novels portraying the teen years of a guy who grows up to be Repairman Jack, a mercenary in another series of adult novels. I really like this sort of thing--teen books that tie into an author's existing adult fiction, like Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld books which bounce back and forth between urban fantasy and young adult fantasy. This book definitely made me want to check out the Repairman Jack books, because if young Jack is this interesting, he probably only gets better with age.

    Jack's a regular 14-year-old guy living in 1983 New Jersey, but troubling supernatural events seem to shadow him. In this story, his female friend Weezy is attacked by Carson, a popular football player. Weezy gets away from him with only a torn shirt and some scratches, but she knows it could have been worse. Jack is already seeing red, but he's even more furious when Carson spreads rumors about Weezy and she gets mocked at school. It's time for Jack to get revenge, and he actually does have adequate motivation for taking Carson down: the guy attacked his friend with the intent to hurt her badly, then Carson's slander makes Weezy spiral out of control emotionally, which in turn makes her parents want to put her in psychiatric counseling. It's a psychological can of worms, and when Jack begins to prank Carson, even more dark smalltown secrets are revealed.

    Jack is a hardcore kid. He originally decides to smash Carson's kneecaps with a baseball bat and he comes close to doing it, but realizes that attacking an unarmed guy, no matter what his crimes were, isn't fair or just. Here's a boy with the guts to confront a villain but the heart to know when not to use violence, which I appreciated. There are many pointed questions about ethics in this book, and Jack is already grappling with some big issues like what makes right and wrong and what constitutes a criminal act. Apparently, in the grown-up Jack novels, he has become an "urban mercenary," and though I'm not exactly sure what that means, it's probably cool yet morally ambiguous.

    I like the early 80's time frame, because it's not so far in the past that it seems antiquated but it's still far enough back that there are several notable differences in the reality of the story and the reality of today. The kids have to address their problems with the resources of their time; Jack and Weezy have to talk on landlines because cell phones don't exist, Jack can't institute an anti-Carson smear campaign over the internet because nobody has computers, and so on. Then again, Jack can sneak into his own high school at night because complex security systems aren't yet in place, so the low-tech era has its advantages, too

    I was surprised to find some paranormal elements added to what I thought was just a regular adventure-mystery, but once I noticed them, they started showing up everywhere. There's the albino girl Saree who can see auras, and Weird Walt, a hobo-type acquaintance of Jack's who may be weirder than anyone knows, and then there's Jack's new friend Levi, who seems to have some kind of supernatural powers. There are hints at larger conspiracies and some seriously interesting mysteries about why Jack exists at all, which makes this a very good book for boys. It ought to work best for the 12-16 age range.

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    superb entry

    In 1983 in Johnson, New Jersey Senior quarterback Carson Toliver is the big man on campus at South Burlington County Regional High School. Almost all the students worship the football team captain partly because Carson knows how good he is at the sport but instead of being a snob he is friendly towards everyone. Even Jack admires Carson especially after watching him intervene when a bully was threatening harm to a social Jersey Pine Barrens "Piney" misfit.

    He is not surprised when his best friend Louise "Weezy" Connell goes on a date with Carson as she has an obvious crush on the star. However, Jack is stunned when a heartbroken Weezy tells him soon afterward that Carson sexually assaulted her. He pleads with Weezy to report the attack, but she has parental issues and fears retaliation so she prefers to say nothing; she begs Jack likewise to remain silent. However no one told Carson to shut up as he brags about that night. With his buddy's reputation in tatters as she is now known at school as "Easy Weezy", raging Jack vows to sack Carson with the Pineys providing support.

    The third Repairman Jack "Secret" youth years (see Secret Histories and Secret Circle) is a superb entry that allows readers to see fourteen year old freshman Jack honing the skills that he will need as an adult working the Adversary Cycle countdown into Year Zero. Fifteen years old veteran sophomore Weezy adds an element of helpless futility as she believes she has no options to get back at Toliver the rat. Jack tries to wrong a right while learning to move and that violence begets violence.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted July 9, 2011

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