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The Pack

The Pack

4.2 5
by Elisa Carbone

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Becky is convinced that Akhil Vyas is the weirdest person on earth when he shows up in her English class. He refuses to sit in chairs, stares at her with spooky eyes, and has scar-covered skin. But soon Becky’s revulsion turns to fascination. The National Institutes of Health is studying Akhil, but he won’t say why—until something happens that makes


Becky is convinced that Akhil Vyas is the weirdest person on earth when he shows up in her English class. He refuses to sit in chairs, stares at her with spooky eyes, and has scar-covered skin. But soon Becky’s revulsion turns to fascination. The National Institutes of Health is studying Akhil, but he won’t say why—until something happens that makes him swear Becky and her friend Omar to secrecy. Suddenly Becky isn’t sure what’s more shocking—Akhil’s secret, or the chilling reason why he must reveal it. Elisa Carbone weaves a tale of intrigue that will enthrall any reader.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Exploring well-publicized social issues violence at high schools, cliques, white supremacist groups Carbone's (Stealing Freedom) novel juggles a number of themes, with mixed results. Becky, the 15-year-old narrator, initially shrinks from the new kid, Akhil, a heavily scarred, dark-skinned boy with a British accent who disturbs both his teachers and classmates. But Becky's best friend, Omar, is fascinated with Akhil, and soon Becky is, too especially after he confides that he is the subject of a top-secret study at the National Institutes of Health. Cementing the bond among the three is their outraged discovery of white supremacist propaganda belonging to Kyle, a repugnant upperclassman who, joyriding two years earlier, ran down Becky's younger brother and caused him irreparable spinal damage. Making use of Akhil's uncanny intelligence and breaking more than a few laws, the three get hold of Kyle's notebook and find his hit list, which includes Akhil (for the color of his skin), Omar (half-breed), Becky (race mixer) and even her brother (gimp). How can they convince the authorities that they have, as Akhil puts it, stumbled upon the plans for a massacre? The twist here is Akhil's secret: he was raised by wolves in India, and as a result has developed a wolf's keen senses. Kids intrigued by Julie of the Wolves and stories of wild children may enjoy this development; others may feel short-changed by the late emergence of so far-fetched a premise in an otherwise realistic book. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Becky, a high school freshman, has a full plate of troubles: she has been uprooted from her home in Tennessee to a school where she stays at "the bottom of the food chain" socially. Her younger brother's medical bills prevent her from owning a computer and force her to dress unfashionably. The two most popular girls bully her and call her fat. Kyle, the school's racist bully, is downright menacing, and he harasses her closest friend, Omar, for his mixed race background. Then along comes Akhil Vyas, a strange student who refuses to sit at a desk, crouches on the floor and is being studied by the NIH. When Omar befriends Akhil, Becky figures her school life is over, yet she is drawn to this mysterious boy. Why is Akhil so knowledgeable about wolves and pack behavior? What is his secret? When Becky, Omar and Akhil discover a Columbine-like disaster in the planning stages, they face some hard, frightening choices. Carbone's well-written, gripping novel is an important one: it would lend itself well to discussions with young adult readers about acceptance, bullying, and school terrorism—all too real issues that middle and high school students face today. 2003, Viking,
— Judy Crowder
When Akhil first shows up in her English classroom, Becky thinks he is the weirdest person she has ever encountered. The East Indian boy refuses to sit on a chair, and he's covered in scars. Every afternoon a driver takes him to the National Institutes of Health, where he is being studied—but he won't explain why. Eventually, plump, shy Becky and her half-white, half-African American friend Omar make friends with Akhil, and learn the shocking truth. Akhil was brought up by wolves (the scars are from playing with the cubs), and that is why he is being studied. Akhil has some highly developed senses as a result of his unusual upbringing, and an understanding of group behavior that helps Becky and Omar deal with the vicious class bully, Kyle, who is responsible for an accident that crippled Becky's brother. Gradually, they learn that Kyle is up to some new evil doings—inspired by hate groups, he plans to attack the school and kill off everyone on his hit list, including, of course, Becky, Omar, and Akhil. In an exciting climax, the three friends set out to foil Kyle's plans. A spooky cover, showing three long dark shadows on a road at night, and the mystery surrounding Akhil will help attract readers to this effective if melodramatic story of school violence. Carbone, the author of the ALA Best Books for YAs Stealing Freedom and Storm Warriors, knows how to build suspense, and the story moves swiftly. An author's note at the end gives more information on children brought up by wolves, on wolves, and on school violence, and provides Web sites. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2003, Penguin Putnam, Viking, 176p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
Becky, Omar, and Akhil, three high school students considered outsiders by the "in" group, suspect that Kyle, a white supremacist, is planning a violent event at the school. As they try to gather evidence about when and where it will take place, Becky and Omar learn a secret about Akhil: He was raised by wolves until he was about three years old. As a result, his senses are heightened beyond what would be normal for human beings. He considers Becky and Omar his "pack" and will protect them at all costs. Carbone combines humor, suspense, likeable characters, and a realistic high school setting to grab readers and keep them engaged until the end of the story. The two main plot lines, school violence and Akhil's background with the wolves, are almost too much for this relatively short book. Neither scenario is fully developed. It is uncertain how teens will relate to Akhil's experiences with the wolves, although in an afterword, Carbone explains that the character of Akhil is based on a true story. Offer the book to middle school or early high school teens who are looking for a readable, fast-paced book. The book is told in Becky's voice, but both boys and girls should enjoy it. There is some violence at the end of the book when a bomb is set off in the school-all too realistic in this day of students carrying weapons to school and learning to build bombs on the Internet. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Viking, 176p,
— Linda Roberts
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Becky, 15, is an overweight misfit at high school and Omar, her friend, is of mixed-race parentage. Into their lives comes a Hindu boy, Akhil Vyas, who has scars on his body, sits on the classroom floor, and simply walks out when something upsets him. Furthermore, he reveals that he is being studied at the National Institutes of Health, but he won't say why (until nearly the close of the book). As Becky and Omar get to know Akhil and form a bond with him, they are exposed to an older student's neo-Nazi ideas and hatred, and gradually realize that he may be planning a dramatic act of violence at school. From this point the story builds to an exciting and devastating climax. While Akhil's character is not entirely believable, this is a highly entertaining story. Becky and Omar are nicely developed characters, although Kyle is one-dimensional and an altogether evil presence. Akhil's early years, which have brought him to the NIH study, are described in such a way that readers will want to suspend disbelief. His ethic has been molded on that of a wild wolf pack, and there is much wolf lore integrated into the plot. An author's note elaborates on wolves and the inspiration for Akhil. Several Web sites dealing with school violence are also appended. This novel is an out-and-out suspense thriller with a twist; it should definitely appeal to reluctant readers.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The tip-off that there will be mayhem occurs in the first paragraph of this awkward effort that pairs the theme of wolf behavior with a Columbine-style school massacre. When Akhil shows up in a suburban Washington high school, he causes a commotion. Apart from his accent, his refusal to sit in a chair, and his outbursts in class, Akhil’s neck and arms are heavily scarred. Adding to the intrigue, Akhil is in D.C. so that the NIH can study him, although he can’t reveal why. Soon, Akhil befriends two other outcasts in the school: Becky, who is fat, and her friend Omar, whose father, killed in the Gulf War, was black and his mother white. The three are united in their antipathy for Kyle Metzger, who crippled Becky’s little brother in a case of reckless driving, but whose lawyer father got him off scot-free. A new reason to loathe and fear Kyle emerges: he totes Aryan Nation hate literature around in his backpack, along with a hit list. Although the three briefly consider going to the police or the school authorities, they reject that option in favor of doing their own investigation. Akhil, who turns out to have been raised by wolves in India, has some ideas about applying the laws of the pack to the social universe of the high school. The plot is too much of a stretch to take seriously and the ending, though violent, is curiously unemotional. An author’s note offers information on wolves, examples of real "wolf children," and Web sites about school violence. (Fiction. 12-14)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
File size:
135 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Elisa Carbone is the author of Stealing Freedom, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Storm Warriors, winner of Virginia's 2002 Jefferson Cup Award. She is also an enthusiastic rock climber and windsurfer.

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Pack 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this, it was great. But its one of those books you love once, forget about for 10 years, then love it again. One of those books you can't read again twice in a short span of time. But definately a "Oh! I forgot I had this book." read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I raed this at school i was i love with it, there is nothing inapropet about just mild langage, it is a mystry story about these children in high school, there is a bully and there other kids are trying to find out what he planing to do with a list that has teachers and classmates names on it This book made me laugh about the things the did and i could pichter the teachers mad, kids yelling, stuk up parents, the ather has wonder full idaes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago