Shock Point

Shock Point

4.7 21
by April Henry

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Cassie discovers that her stepfather, Rick, a teen psychiatrist, has been illegally prescribing a new behavioral drug to his patients, and three teens have died. Before she can report him, Rick commits Cassie to Peaceful Cove, a boot camp for troubled teens in Mexico. Cassie knows she has to get out now, before more teens die. But no one has ever escaped from Peaceful…  See more details below


Cassie discovers that her stepfather, Rick, a teen psychiatrist, has been illegally prescribing a new behavioral drug to his patients, and three teens have died. Before she can report him, Rick commits Cassie to Peaceful Cove, a boot camp for troubled teens in Mexico. Cassie knows she has to get out now, before more teens die. But no one has ever escaped from Peaceful Cove alive, and even if Cassie gets over the walls and survives the Mexican desert, will anyone believe her story?

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Many teens have conflicts with their stepparents, but Cassie's problems with her mother's new husband, Rick, take a decidedly violent twist when she is thrown into the back of a van. Although Rick has convinced Cassie's mother that the 15-year-old needs a stint at a Mexican boot camp for at-risk youth to straighten her out, Cassie knows why he wants her out of the picture. Rick, a psychiatrist, has been treating his patients with an experimental drug called Socom. Several of his teen patients have suffered delusions that led to their deaths while taking the medicine, but Rick would rather hide that information. After all, he stands to make a fortune once the drug hits the market, as long as no one makes that connection. And no one will, once Cassie's away. Peaceful Cove is, for all intents and purposes, a sort of pseudo-prison for problem kids. Because it is entirely unregulated, the staff makes its own harsh rules. For the most part, the kids just try to survive. But Cassie knows she has to do more than survive. After all, if she does not get out and spread the word about Socom, more teens might die. April Henry's suspenseful novel is fraught with tension from page one. 2006, GP Putnam's Sons/Penguin, Ages 13 to 18.
—Heidi Hauser Green
One April day, fifteen-year-old Cassie is accosted on her driveway by two men, thrown into the back of a van, and handcuffed in front of the knowing eyes of her mother, Jackie, and new stepfather, Rick. Rick tells Cassie that finding crystal meth in her room convinced him that a boarding school, Peaceful Cove, will help Cassie straighten herself out. But Cassie never used drugs. During the long drive to destination unknown-ultimately Mexico-Cassie realizes that her malevolent, controlling, psychiatrist stepfather engineered her abduction because of her attempt to expose his complicity in doctoring findings of an experimental antidepressant, which resulted in three teenagers' suicides. Peaceful Cove is really a detention center with barbed wire fences and guards. Little education is going on. Breaking its strict rules can result in dire consequences. Cassie is befriended by Hayley, a sixteen-year-old inmate, and the two plan their escape, a feat never before accomplished. Henry alternates between the events occurring during the three days prior to Cassie's abduction and the present. Initial suspense is short-lived, but the inmates' fear and the guards' intimidation do come through. The events transpire over two months before Cassie successfully escapes. The escape, however, is too quick and easy, and the book's ending is too pat, with Cassie exposing her stepfather and her mother filing for annulment. An easy read, the novel targets middle and high schoolers of both genders, but unfortunately there is no "shock." Libraries should spend their money on a more gripping story. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 192p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Ed Goldberg
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Cassie Streng, 16, knows that her psychiatrist stepfather, Rick, prescribed an experimental drug for his teenage patients, three of whom have committed suicide. Before she can gather evidence, however, she is grabbed by two men, handcuffed, locked in the back of a van, and taken to Peaceful Cove, a facility for troubled teens in Mexico. Rick has assured her mother that the place is an excellent boarding school-he maintains that he found crystal meth in Cassie's room-but she soon discovers the truth. She is trapped in a brutal prison camp, and she must make her way back to Oregon and convince someone of the danger Rick represents before anyone else dies. While the premise is a bit over the top, Cassie is a strong and sympathetic character who relies on her wits and determination from the very first page. Short chapters that show how she uncovers her stepfather's actions alternate with the story of her journey from Portland to Mexico, a nicely executed technique that keeps the plot moving and readers engaged. While the secondary characters are a little flat and the ending is a bit too neat, Henry packs her first YA novel with the quick action and suspense that will keep even reluctant readers turning the pages.-Beth Gallego, Los Angeles Public Library, North Hollywood Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Almost 16, Cassie hates her new psychiatrist stepfather, Rick, in this over-the-top thriller. Cassie discovers that relentlessly evil Rick has fraudulently given an unproven drug to three teens who subsequently committed suicide. Before she knows it, Rick has her kidnapped and shipped to a school for delinquent kids in Mexico. Cassie's loving but clueless and very pregnant mother agrees with the decision, going along with anything her new husband says. Cassie immediately learns that the school is more like a prison, where the students are beaten and starved. Can Cassie escape, expose Rick's crimes and put an end to the school? Henry writes with a quick-moving, superficial style and often glosses over awkward plot points with quick explanatory paragraphs. He delivers some shocking moments while making no attempt to examine realistic adolescent problems. A potboiler that may appeal to a wide range of young readers and could be useful for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 12-16)
From the Publisher
Henry packs her first YA novel with the quick action and suspense that will keep even reluctant readers turning the pages." School Library Journal

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
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Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt


April 14

It was the rough hand over her mouth that convinced Cassie Streng that what was happening was real. That and the way the other man grabbed her legs.

Five minutes earlier, Cassie had gotten off the school bus and walked up the hill toward her house. A white van was parked in her driveway. She hadn't recognized the van. She barely recognized the house-after nearly 16 years of living in the same house, it was hard to get used to someplace you had only lived in for two months.

There was a squealing metal sound, like a door opening. Then hands grabbed her from behind. An enormous arm wrapped itself around her neck like a boa constrictor. She swung her open backpack up and behind her, and heard the man grunt as it connected. A pen bounced off Cassie's head and a book struck her shoulder. The man tore the backpack from her and flung it on the ground, then pulled her tighter against his fat belly.

Cassie started to scream, but then his hand was over her mouth, stifling her, pressing so hard that she felt the bridge of her nose shift.

This couldn't be happening to her. Cassie managed to catch a tiny fold of skin between her front teeth. She nipped it. Hard.

"Bitch!" hissed in her ear. The hand loosened for a second. She smelled fried food when she took a shuddery frantic breath, but then the hand was clamped down again, harder. No air, no air.

Another man ran in front of her and grabbed her ankles, easily swinging her up into the air. He was short and solid, with a dyed-black mullet.

"She's a sassy one," he said, and grinned. He was still grinning when Cassie kicked him in the face. Her shoe flew off her foot. Dropping one of Cassie's legs, he clamped a hand across his nose, which was now spurting blood. The hand across her mouth loosened. Cassie dragged another breath into her lungs, then let it out in a scream.

It wasn't as loud as she had hoped; there hadn't been enough air behind it. But surely her mother must have heard. Or the neighbors, then. One of them might be dialing 9-1-1 right now.

The men grabbed her again, no-nonsense now. The mullet-haired man lifted her other ankle and caught them both under his arm. The man behind her, the one she couldn't see, clamped his hand over her mouth again.

Holding her between them like a rolled-up carpet, the men began to maneuver her around to the back of the van. The doors were now open. Metal bars divided the front bench seat from the empty back. The floor was bare except for a rubber mat and a white five-gallon plastic bucket. An iron bar was bolted on one wall, and from it hung a two-foot-long loop of chain fastened with a metal lock.

The guy holding her legs grunted as he tried to step back and up into the van. Cassie started thrashing even harder, hoping to throw him off balance. If she could just get her feet under her!

She heard the front door bang open. Hope bloomed in her. Her mom! Cassie imagined Jackie with the phone in one hand and her stepfather Rick's gun in the other. That must have been what had taken her so long, unlocking the gun from its safe.

Her mom ran around the corner. No phone, no gun. Instead she held a suitcase in one hand. The other clutched a brochure, with a starfish on the front, to her swollen belly. Cassie almost didn't recognize Jackie. Her eyes were slits, red and swollen. Had they beaten her? Had they hurt the baby? Was her mom being kidnapped, too?

She arched her back even more frantically, managed to get her mouth free. "Mom-Mom! Help me! Mom!"

Her mom looked at Cassie, then away. Something was terribly wrong. Cassie felt like she had stepped out into the air, never noticing the staircase beneath her feet. The feeling of beginning to fall.

Behind her, cold metal clicked onto her wrists, so tight that it pinched her skin. Handcuffs. The man with the mullet let her feet go, and she fell against the man behind her.

In a strangled voice, Jackie spoke to the two men. "Wait! I don't-I don't know if this is right. Do you have to manhandle her like that?"

The man with his arm looped around Cassie's neck spoke. "They're tricky at this stage, ma'am. You can't ask them to come along quietly-because they won't. They will lie and manipulate until they've got you believing that what's up is down and what's black is white."

"Mom-what's happening?" Cassie asked in a choked whisper. "What's happening to me?"

"It's for the best, Cassie. They're going to help you." Jackie's drawn-in breath was like a sob.

"What? Mom, what are they doing? Where are you letting them take me?"

The man behind Cassie gave her shoulder a little shove. "Okay, ma'am, we need to get this show on the road." Cassie took one step, two, not resisting. Her mother handed the other one the suitcase and he threw it into the back of the van. He picked Cassie's shoe up off the lawn and threw that in, too.

She heard the front door open again, and looked over to see Rick coming out of the house. He came down the steps and put his arm around her mother. "That's right, Cassie. Just go along with these gentlemen. They're going to help you with your problems." "I don't have any problems!" she yelled. "It's you who has the problem!"

"Cassie-I found the crystal meth in your room. Don't try to lie."

Shock stiffened her spine. "What are you talking about? I don't use drugs." She appealed to her mom. "I don't! How can you even think that?"

But instead of turning to her, her mother looked up at Rick, her brows knitting together. "Be strong, Jackie. Would you rather see Cassie in jail-or dead? This is her only hope." The man behind Cassie shoved her. She sprawled onto the floor of the van, vainly trying to jerk her handcuffed arms forward to break her fall. Rough hands dragged Cassie forward, and turned her so that she was sitting. They unlocked the chain and slid it through her handcuffs, then clicked it closed again. She only had eyes for her mother. Surely Jackie couldn't allow this to happen. Surely she would know whom to believe. Instead of looking at Cassie, her mom pressed her face into Rick's neck. Absently, he patted her back, but his eyes didn't move. The last thing Cassie saw before the van doors slammed closed was her stepfather's cold stare.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Henry packs her first YA novel with the quick action and suspense that will keep even reluctant readers turning the pages." School Library Journal

Meet the Author

April Henry lives in Portland, Oregon.

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