The first young adult novel from Edgar-winner Klavan, which kicks off the Homelanders series, offers fast-paced action sequences, but disappoints with a weak plot. Charlie West is a good student, a black belt at karate and has finally asked out his dream girl. One night, he goes to sleep and wakes up to find himself one year in the future at a secret compound, with no memory of what's happened to him. He manages to escape, and as he evades his former captors. he discovers that he's also a fugitive from the law and has somehow been drawn into an Islamist terrorist conspiracy. Details of the last day Charlie remembers are slowly filled in over the course of his escape, but the most intriguing parts of the novel are the present-day action sequences; although Charlie often gets lucky, he's also very capable of recognizing that luck and taking advantage of opportunities when they arise. Unfortunately, he's never really given any room to grow in his personal beliefs or character, with his certainty that he's always correct consistently getting reinforced throughout. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Charlie West just woke up in someone else's nightmare.
School Library JournalGr 7–10—Charlie West lived the life of an ordinary teenager—good student, black belt in karate, motivated—until he wakes up strapped in a chair next to a table of blood-splattered instruments of torture. He manages to escape from his unknown captors only to discover that an entire year has passed, of which he remembers nothing. Finding himself pursued by those he perceived as the "good guys," he must run to save himself and to discover the truth. Yet when Charlie learns of a plot to assassinate a government official, he risks all to save a stranger. This first book in the series may lack cohesiveness, but it remains a compelling thriller. The first half unfolds in painstaking, if not excruciating, detail, while the second half speeds to an ending with no real resolution. Readers presumably will have to hope that the sequel will explain more fully this tightly wound mystery. Klavan spends a good deal of time aptly portraying Charlie and other key figures, but some patriotic characters may come across as overzealous and off-putting.—Tara Kehoe, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ
Kirkus ReviewsWhen high schooler Charlie West wakes up in a torture chamber, the last thing he remembers is a normal day. He escapes the torturers who "look foreign" only to find he's wanted for the murder of his former friend Alex, who'd fallen in with a bad crowd and lost his faith. Captured by the police, Charlie escapes with the help of persons unknown and stops a plot to kill the Secretary of Homeland Security before racing off to clear his name. Edgar winner Klavan's first of a series for teens could not be more of a mess. His idea of high school seems to come entirely from after-school specials, and the characters never rise above cliches. The tension surrounding Charlie's escape in the first half is continually undercut by alternating chapters of told-not-shown memories of his previous life; the ending is not so much a cliffhanger as an abrupt termination of the story in midstream. This jingoistic paranoia might still play in some quarters, but it is to be hoped that its time is passing. Save your thriller dollars for better. (Thriller. YA)
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