Road of the Dead

Road of the Dead

4.2 33
by Kevin Brooks
     
 

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When the Dead Man comes out of the dark and takes down Rachel, Ruben feels it. Miles away, sitting in the back of a wrecked Mercedes, wondering about the rain, he feels her fear, real as a knife ripping open his heart. And he knows in that cracked moment his sister is gone.

Ruben, 14, can sense certain things, even though he can't always understand them. His

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Overview

When the Dead Man comes out of the dark and takes down Rachel, Ruben feels it. Miles away, sitting in the back of a wrecked Mercedes, wondering about the rain, he feels her fear, real as a knife ripping open his heart. And he knows in that cracked moment his sister is gone.

Ruben, 14, can sense certain things, even though he can't always understand them. His older brother, Cole, is different: dark-eyed, pure, and, direct, with the face of a devil's angel. A face that does what it says.

Cole doesn't need to tell Ruben what he's decided. Three days after Rachel's death, the two boys set out from their half-gypsy home on a London breaker's yard for the desolate moors of Devon, where they're determined to reclaim their sister's ravaged body and uncover the cold truth behind her killing. It's a long road, this journey, hard and violent. It's a trail thick with blood.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With the same hint of supernatural overtones as his Lucas, Brooks's latest novel grabs and holds readers' attention from its very first chapter, in which narrator Ruben Ford, who possesses a form of second sight, senses his sister Rachel's murder on a desolate moor. Determined to find Rachel's killer so her body can be released from the coroner's office and returned home for burial, Ruben, 14, and his 17-year-old brother, the streetwise fighter Cole, travel from their London home to the tiny, dying town of Lychcombe. There, the boys find hostile, loutish villagers bent on covering up the festering corruption that lies at the town's core-and the root cause of Rachel's rape and death. The boys' investigation sets off a series of beatings, confrontations and kidnappings. Although some of the violence takes place off stage, enough of it unfolds in such detail that squeamish readers may find themselves skimming over certain passages. These grim goings-on provide a setting that highlights the narrative's fragments of haunting beauty: Ruben's connection to the Dartmoor countryside and Cole's unexpected attraction to a gypsy girl. Subplots about the Fords' own partial gypsy lineage and the mythic aura of the moor serve to heighten the suspense. Peopled with singular protagonists and downright scary villains, this bleak-yet-romantic tale is a whirlwind ride for the right reader. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Sensitive fourteen-year-old Ruben Ford, son of a British mother and an incarcerated gypsy father, has prescient, mind-reading abilities that are torturous-no more so than when he psychically experiences the murder of his sister Rachel when it happens miles from his London home. His brother Cole, a brooding, wise-beyond-his-years seventeen-year-old with barely contained violent urges simmering just below skin level, grabs a gun and heads to the dying village where Rachel was murdered, with Ruben in close pursuit. When the boys get to Dartmoor to claim Rachel's body, they attract trouble in shocking ways. Life in the village, near the moor where Rachel was killed, is devoid of human kindness, atmospheric warmth, or anything resembling hope and purpose. The few remaining villagers are hiding dark secrets that get in the way of the Ford brothers' search. As the boys get closer to uncovering a development scam that may have ensnared Rachel, it is getting more difficult for them to stay alive. Brooks's genius lies in his ability to create an utterly joyous universe with deeply damaged characters whom the reader finds unnervingly appealing. Cole's steely inflexible lack of fear coupled with Ruben's psychic abilities match brains and brawn with an evil so profound, escape seems unlikely. Brooks, an award-winning British "kindred soul of creep" to America's Kathe Koja, has written four other novels for teens. His latest is compelling, disturbing, and recommended. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, The Chicken House/Scolastic, 352p., Ages 11 to15.
—Beth E. Andersen
Susan Gapp
Two determined brothers travel from London to an eerie village in the moors on a mission to find their sister's rapist and murderer after the family becomes impatient with the police investigation. As the unwelcome boys begin to unravel the secrets and dynamics of the community, they experience savage attempts to put a stop to their searching, which is nudging them closer to the truth. The boys compromise their own lives to complete their mission and bring peace to their family. This suspenseful story encompasses both a violent edge and emotional softness. The brothers' personalities complement each other, as one is hardened and fearless, while the other is compassionate and sensitive. Feelings of loss, love, and anger run deep throughout the story, allowing for personal connections that keep the reader anxiously awaiting the boys' safe return home.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Ruben Ford, 14, feels things. When his sister is murdered on the English moors, he knows she's dead even though he's home in London. He and his brother, Cole, 17, are freakishly linked by Ruben's power to feel what Cole feels. The teens travel to Dartmoor to find Rachel's killer and bring her body home. They're received by a Dickensian assortment of sadistic thugs, greasy criminals, and corrupt cops, all hiding something. Brooks's feel for mood and setting is as masterful here as in his taut, noir Martyn Pig (Scholastic, 2002). A haunting, tense drama builds from the first line and only lets up for scenes of brutal, vivid violence that bring readers back down to earth. The murder is all but solved by the second half of the book, and the pace falters a bit as the resolution becomes obvious. However, Brooks sustains a mythical aura throughout, and rapid-fire action should keep teens engrossed. Ruben is vintage Brooks: sensitive, strange, and wholly three-dimensional. The dialogue between the brothers is crisp and natural, and often funny and touching at once. Cole is perfectly drawn as Ruben's tough, detached counterbalance. Brooks shows that the real magic between the brothers is their ferocious love for one another, and he does so brilliantly.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"When the Dead Man got Rachel I was sitting in the back of a wrecked Mercedes wondering if the rain was going to stop." So it is that 14-year-old Ruben, who can read minds, vicariously witnesses his sister's murder. He and his older brother Cole travel to a desolate village in search of the killer, so that the coroner will release the body for burial. What follows is suspenseful and ultimately violent-though filtered through Ruben's nonviolent perspective. The brothers' relationship develops through the action, in Brooks's signature poetic prose and humorous banter: "I need to know what you're thinking sometimes." "You know what I'm thinking." "I need to hear it." . . . "You want to know what I'm thinking?" . . . "Yeah." . . . "I need to go to the bathroom . . . that's what I'm thinking." "I knew that," I told him. "I thought you might." "I knew that too." Fans of Brooks's Martyn Pig, Kissing the Rain, Candy and Lucas, won't be disappointed by this thrilling, gritty story and it's memorable, heart-breaking characters. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher

Booklist Brooks, Kevin. The Road of the Dead. Mar. 2006. 352p. Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99 (0-439-78623-1).
Gr. 9–12. Fourteen-year-old Ruben Ford is sitting in his father's junkyard when he knows––knows––that his older sister, Rachel, has been raped and murdered. Perhaps it is his Gypsy blood that gives him second sight; Ruben can see and feel things others can't. He knows, for instance, that his ice-cold brother, Cole, is going to get into––and cause––trouble when he decides to go to desolate Dartmoor, where Rachel met her end. Brooks' great strength is his talent for intense description; he makes readers see, feel, and smell all that Ruben does––most of it coarse, disgusting, and ugly. The author uses an interesting technique to heighten that effect. Psychic Ruben can see things happening miles away, so Cole's battles with those responsible for Rachel's death are literally seen through Ruben's eyes. However, as in Kissing the Rain (2004), Brooks has trouble tying up loose ends. Thus, the question of how Cole comes upon a key piece of evidence is brushed away with Ruben's comment, “Does it matter?” Readers have sat through a lot of brutality (albeit strikingly written brutality) to get that information, so the answer is, well, yeah, it does. ––Ilene Cooper

Kirkus
"When the Dead Man got Rachel I was sitting in the back of a wrecked Mercedes wondering if the rain was going to stop." So it is that 14-year-old Ruben, who can read minds, vicariously witnesses his sister's murder. He and his older brother Cole travel to a desolate village in search of the killer, so that the coroner will release the body for burial. What follows is suspenseful and ultimately violent—though filtered through Ruben's nonviolent perspective. The brothers' relationship develops through the action, in Brooks's signature poetic prose and humorous banter: "I need to know what you're thinking sometimes." "You know what I'm thinking." "I need to hear it." . . . "You want to know what I'm thinking?" . . . "Yeah." . . . "I need to go to the bathroom . . . that's what I'm thinking." "I knew that," I told him. "I thought you might." "I knew that too." Fans of Brooks's Martyn Pig, Kissing the Rain, Candy and Lucas, won't be disappointed by this thrilling, gritty story and it's memorable, heart-breaking characters. (Fiction. YA)

Horn Book
Fourteen-year-old British, half-gypsy Ruben often knows the thoughts of others, mainly his family, especially his brother, Cole -- but never his older sister, Rachel. So he's perplexed and frightened when, one stormy night, he finds himself psychically witnessing someone raping and killing Rachel. When the investigation into her murder seems to stall, Ruben and Cole head off to the country town where Rachel had been staying. Though they are met with opposition because they are "half-breeds" and outsiders, the brothers slowly chip away at the secrets of Lychcombe on Dartmoor. Once they put together the pieces of the crime, including conspiracy and mistaken identity, their job is only half over. Brooks succeeds on every level with this enthralling mystery/thriller that will keep readers turning pages well past bedtime. The descriptions are poetic, and the dialogue is lyrical but realistic. Readers who can accept the premise of the psychic gypsy boy will easily lose themselves and set off in search of Brooks's previous novels, if they are not fans already. TIMOTHY CAPEHART

PW Starred Review
With the same hint of supernatural overtones as hisLucas , Brooks's latest novel grabs and holds readers' attention from its very first chapter, in which narrator Ruben Ford, who possesses a form of second sight, senses his sister Rachel's murder on a desolate moor. Determined to find Rachel's killer so her body can be released from the coroner's office and returned home for burial, Ruben, 14, and his 17-year-old brother, the streetwise fighter Cole, travel

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781904442752
Publisher:
Gardners Books
Publication date:
03/06/1906

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