4.4 5
by April Henry

When Ellie's parents are busted for possession of marijuana, the FBI gives her a choice: infiltrate the Mother Earth Defenders (MED), a radical environmental group, or her parents will go to jail. At first Ellie is more than willing to entrap the MEDics, but the more time she spends undercover-particularly with Coyote, the green-eyed MEDic that she can't stop

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When Ellie's parents are busted for possession of marijuana, the FBI gives her a choice: infiltrate the Mother Earth Defenders (MED), a radical environmental group, or her parents will go to jail. At first Ellie is more than willing to entrap the MEDics, but the more time she spends undercover-particularly with Coyote, the green-eyed MEDic that she can't stop thinking about-the more she starts to believe in their cause. When talk turns to murder, Coyote backs out, but Ellie is willing to risk everything to save her family-even if it means losing Coyote and putting her own life on the line.

April Henry, author of the acclaimed YA thriller Shock Point, pulls an issue straight from the headlines as she deftly explores what happens when good intentions get out of hand. With the environment a hot topic, this blend of explosive action and romance will make Torched a must-read for all suspense lovers.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Facing time in foster care after her ex-hippie parents are arrested for growing and selling marijuana, 16-year-old Ellie assists the FBI by infiltrating Mother Earth Defenders, a radical environmental group, to gather evidence for eventual prosecution. She's accepted into the ranks after gluing the doors of a federal building shut, and quickly becomes involved with other missions, including firebombing a Hummer dealership. Her task is complicated by her growing crush on Coyote, one of the leaders of the radicals. After an unsuccessful mission at a logging site, the deadly side of MED comes out, and Ellie must balance her feigned fanaticism with her desire not to harm anyone. Most readers will have a hard time suspending disbelief long enough to go along with Henry's premise that the FBI could legally recruit a minor as an agent. Still, Ellie is a well-developed character with a crafty habit that reinforces the "reduce, recycle, reuse" message without becoming preachy. Her infatuation with Coyote makes her seem younger than 16, and Coyote's casual dismissal of her betrayal seems at odds with his passionate personality. Educators and environmentalists will appreciate the similarities between Ellie's adventures and the exploits of Julia Butterfly Hill, as it will allow them to engage in a discussion about endangered species, corporate responsibility, and logging. Teens interested in environmental concerns may find this appealing.-Chris Shoemaker, New York Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Ellie is caught between two evils in this eco-terrorism thriller. When Ellie's aging hippie parents are arrested for drug dealing, the FBI offers a deal: If Ellie will infiltrate the environmental activist group Mother Earth Defenders, her parents will stay out of jail. Ellie can't bear to betray a group whose goals are so laudable-after all, who doesn't want to protect old-growth forests and the habitat of the endangered lynx?-but she'll do anything to keep her frail, innocent pothead dad out of prison. MED's members aren't so morally pure as Ellie would hope, however. Sure, gorgeous, blond-ringleted Coyote is a good guy, but creepy-looking Hawk advocates violence. Early attempts at exploring the moral complexities of extreme environmental activism get left by the wayside as Ellie's tale concentrates on romance and big explosions, but the thrills and action will keep readers interested as she navigates her way between terrorists and self-centered Feds. (Thriller. 12-14)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
HL710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Torched 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Lisa Wicoff More than 1 year ago
After reading the summary, I wasn't sure that I would like this book, but it was surprisingly good! Her other books, such as Girl Lost and Shock Point are also must-reads.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love April's writing. Can't wait for more of her solo works or "joint" works.
queenb4ever More than 1 year ago
The preview of it made it sound really good and I was very excited to get i but I was greatly dissipointed with this read. It is really imaginive with a great plot line, but the writing makes the story fall flat. I think that if it had been better written it would have been much more injoyable.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
Ellie is used to her parents having groups of friends over to smoke marijuana and get stoned. She often feels more like the parent than the child, cooking for the people who drop in and cleaning up when they leave. Otherwise she spends her time trying to do well in school. But when the FBI raids her home and arrests her parents for growing marijuana in their basement, she can't go back to living life as she knew it. The FBI most wants to find out about the activities of the Mother Easth Defenders,(MED) a radical environmental group that her parents were meeting with. The FBI will let her parents go, but only if she agrees to infiltrate MED and pass along information about any violent actions the group plans to take. Against her wishes, Ellie agrees to help. But as she gets more involved with the group, and she begins to fall for Coyote, one of its members, she begins to see why they are so passionate about their cause. Torn between wanting to help her parents, her growing love for Coyote and her concern for the environment, Ellie must walk a fine line and lie to everyone she cares about. How can she see it through without losing everyone she cares about as well? Torched by April Henry will keep you turning pages as you follow Ellie from fire-bombing a Hummer dealership, to tree sitting and more. Her conflicted conscious brings up great things to talk about in a mother-daughter book club. Among other things it asks the reader to ask: How far would you go to support a cause you thought was vitally important? What would you do if you could help someone you loved, even if it was dangerous? While you may expect to have a happily-ever-after ending, Henry keeps you guessing at the outcome right to the last page.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Ellie is the adopted daughter of a couple of old hippies. They love telling stories about their past as young rebels and spend their time looking out for new causes and smoking pot. It wasn't unusual, then, when members of MED, the Mother Earth Defenders, started hanging around in Ellie's living room. There were some fairly lively discussions and one pretty cute guy named Coyote.

When Ellie agreed to a couple of coffee shop dates with Coyote, little did she know she would soon be learning more about him and the MEDics' causes than she ever wanted to know. The cops had evidently been keeping an eye on Ellie's house because known members of the group had been meeting there. During a raid to arrest the group cops had labeled "ecoterrorists," Ellie's parents were arrested for drug trafficking.

Being arrested was not new to the couple, but in the past they had been younger and healthier. Now the prospect of jail time was frightening, especially for Ellie's father and his weak heart. In order to protect her parents, Ellie finds herself agreeing to help the FBI in their investigation of the MEDics.

Now Ellie is closer than ever to the handsome Coyote, but she also can't believe she is buying dark-colored clothing from the Goodwill store and planning a solo initiation attack to convince the group that she is legit. Once she is accepted as part of the group, things begin to escalate. They may be protecting "mother earth," but they don't seem to be above taking human lives to further their cause.

TORCHED by April Henry is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The book starts with a Prologue that puts readers in the thick of the action, and things don't slow down from there until the end.

As a reader, I became involved in the story on several levels. I liked the fast-paced action, but I also found myself identifying with the MED cause. Protecting our great planet is a worthy cause, and Ellie's experience did have me thinking about many of the wasteful things I do to contribute to the problem. TORCHED should prove popular with many teen readers.