Part of the new Orca Soundings series of stylish-looking paperbacks designed to attract reluctant teen readers, this title presents what sounds like an edgy premise in language geared to a third-grade reading level. As Heneghan's (Waiting for Sarah) story opens, rich, blonde and beautiful Birgit, who has eyes "like ice," is assaulted by three girls. Birgit assembles a small team of misfits who are equally fed up with the out-of-control bullying at their school, and leads them to kidnap her tormenters, cut their hair and dump paint on their heads. Then it's on to the racist bullies who put a boy in the hospital. The characters themselves are little more than props in a rushed morality lecture. The main character, Mickey, is the most robust; a former gang member who has grown tired of using his fists, he reluctantly joins the action and even more reluctantly involves his mentally ill roommate. Heneghan poses serious questions about bullying and violence among young people, then unfortunately sidesteps them all, with a concluding clich ("Seems to me your so-called Hit Squad is just as bad as the bullies you're out to get," says one of Mickey's friends). Ages 12-up. (Sept.) FYI: The other titles in the Orca Soundings series being released this month: Fastback Beach by Shirlee Smith Matheson (-267-6); Tough Trails by Irene Morck (-271-4); Truth by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (-265-X). Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
High School students Mickey, the orphan boy, and Birgit share a similar problem: bullies. All of the students at Grandview have faced a bully at some point in their lives, and that is especially true for Mickey and Birgit. Because Birgit is tired of seeing her friends and fellow classmates punished for no reason, she has decided to put a stop to all the bullying. She and Mickey put together a Secret Society called "The Hit Squad." The students at Grandview are in for a surprise when the Hit Squad begins to clean up Grandview's trash. This novel takes many twists and turns and holds the audience's attention throughout. It does a great job showing how students who may not be the best of friends can become a tight knit group through a common cause. This book will build the confidence of all those who are bullied and will make the bullies fear their victims. 2003, Orca Book Publishers, Ages 9 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Birgit Neilsen, gorgeous and popular, is tired of the long-standing status quo at Grandview High School. She organizes a group of like-minded students to combat the bullying and terrorism that exists, but their good intentions soon result in tragedy and the death of a fellow student. This book is obviously intended for reluctant readers. Engaging dialogue, an absorbing plot, and well-defined characters are all sacrificed to short, choppy sentences; stilted dialogue; and a message that has all of the subtlety of a hammer blow to the head. An incredibly monotonous book.-Robert Gray, East Central Regional Library, Cambridge, MN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Heneghan writes in an eminently readable style without shirking from the real issues that teens are facing in schools today…Tightly written and instantly engaging. Highly recommended."
Canadian Book Review Annual
"Heneghan's Hit Squad is an excellent example of the hi-lo genre. Despite the genre's length constraints, Heneghan has created an engaging and believable plot populated by a cast of characters who are more fully developed than most in hi-lo books...Highly recommended."
"Heneghan confronts increasingly serious situations for his young readers...yet his writing, catching both the cynicism and resilience of adolescence, along with trademark drama from the opening sentence onward, keeps his stories accessible and compelling."
Read an Excerpt
"So, what do you say?" said Peter. "You guys ready to put a stop to it?"
"Put a stop to it?" said Whisper. "Are you kidding? You've been watching too many Bruce Willis videos, man. What can the four of us do?"
"They must be punished," said Birgit quietly. "And it will be a warning to others. Word will get around. It will no longer be the law of the jungle. It will be law and order, decency and dignity."
"You're out of your mind," said Whisper.
"No, I'm not. I know I'm right."
"So we're to be, what? A high school SWAT team? A hit squad?"