From the Publisher
“Truly intelligent storytelling for teens.”—The Miami Herald
“Guys looking for nonstop action . . . will eat this up.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The fast-paced, gripping plot is an excellent vehicle for presenting a significant environmental message to an audience that might not hear it otherwise. The story stands on its own, but will be especially appreciated by those who experienced the cliff-hanger ending of Firestorm. All readers will eagerly await the third book.”—School Library Journal
“Klass continues the nonstop action in this thrilling sequel, in which the sensitive, appealingly conflicted hero finds plenty of new opportunities to confront ecological crisis.”—Booklist
“Klass once again combines breakneck adventure, unusual characters, and ecological issues—this time the destruction of the Amazon rainforest—in a rousing story.”—Don Gallo, English Journal
Children's Literature - Melissa Joy Adams
In this second book of "The Caretaker Trilogy," Jack Danielson, who returns home in hopes of reuniting with his girlfriend, PJ, discovers that she has been kidnapped, and that he is the prime suspect. With the help of Gisco, a telepathic dog, Jack escapes and learns that not only does he have to save PJ but also the world. The Dark Lord is back, and he is intent on destroying the Amazon rain forests and getting revenge on Jack for killing his son. The ethereal ninja babe, Eko, returns from the future to assist Jack on his mission to find the Mysterious Kidah, a great wizard-scientist and the only person capable of thwarting the Dark Lord. While the action packed, fast paced plot is bound to appeal to some readers, specifically reluctant male readers, most will not be impressed. Jack's voice is not consistent, seeming uncharacteristically too adult at times. The female characters are stereotypical action babesundeveloped, generally passive, with the primary purpose of providing sexual titillation. Despite these drawbacks, the end of chapter cliff hangers, strange Amazon creatures, and non-stop action will draw a certain audience and keep them reading until the end. Reviewer: Melissa Joy Adams
Klass continues his ecological science fiction adventure by sending heroic earthly caretaker Jack Danielson back to the home he fled in the first book of The Caretaker Trilogy, Firestorm (Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 2006/VOYA October 2006), to find his girlfriend, P.J. Jack soon finds out from his psychic shaggy-dog pal, Gisco, that she has been abducted, and the villainous Dark Army is hot on their trail. The search for the love of Jack's young life leads them back to the woman he is apparently destined to marry, Eko, which make things complicated, and through dangerous jungles in hopes of waking an ancient warrior to battle the Dark Army's Dark Lord. The next installment is again difficult to anticipate with any emotion stronger than grim determination to see the series conclude. Although the second book is a vast improvement over the first, many of the same quibbles still exist: convoluted storytelling, racing right from one adventure to another, and still too many sentence fragments. Plus Jack keeps gets knocked out a lot, and throughout the book he faces off against vampire bats, vampire fish (in two separate scenes), and a deadly elderly balloonist. If this were a tongue-in-cheek action-adventure send-up, that sequence might fly. But there is no evidence that Klass is portraying his tale as anything other than deadly serious, which still leaves things deathly dull. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.
In this action-packed ecological thriller, Jack, our hero, has been gone from his hometown for six months, off fulfilling his destiny and saving Earth’s oceans. Now he returns to try to see his high school sweetheart, P.J., only to discover that she’s disappeared and he’s being blamed. Jack escapes with the wisecracking telepathic dog Gisco and heads off in a hot air balloon for the Amazon to rescue P.J. and save the planet once again. The Dark Lord is destroying the rain forest, and only the great wizard scientist, the Mysterious Kidah, can stop him. Jack must find Kidah and P.J and help fight the dread Dark Lord and his army. Eko, the beautiful “Ninja Babe” from the future, is there to help as Jack faces all kinds of new dangers in this breathless adventure. While the plot of Book 1, Firestorm, is summarized, this will work better for those familiar with that story than new readers, but every YA will enjoy the nonstop action, the fantasy and horror elements, and the heartfelt ecological message. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up- Returning home to Hadley-by-Hudson after surviving his treacherous, six-month-long quest to save the Earth's oceans in Firestorm (Farrar, 2006), Jack Danielson is anxious to make sure that his girlfriend is all right. He is horrified to find that P.J. is missing and that he is considered responsible not only for her disappearance, but also for the deaths of his parents, who perished trying to save him from the Dark Army in the first book. This evil army from the future has now kidnapped P.J. and is gathering its forces to thwart Jack in his mission to save the planet from ecological disaster. To find P.J. and fulfill his mission, Jack must travel to the heart of the Amazonian rain forest; find the missing time-traveling wizard, Kidah; and join with him to defeat the Dark Lord from the future before he destroys the Earth. Like Jack's first adventure, Whirlwind is filled with thrilling, death-defying situations seldom found outside computer games. The fast-paced, gripping plot is an excellent vehicle for presenting a significant environmental message to an audience that might not hear it otherwise. The story stands on its own, but will be especially appreciated by those who experienced the cliff-hanger ending of Firestorm (Farrar, 2006). All readers will eagerly await the third book.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Frenetic pacing enlivens environmental preaching in this eco-thriller follow-up to Firestorm (2006). Meet Jack Danielson, high-school hero. Likes sentence fragments. Sent back in time from an apocalyptic future and saved the world. Now he just wants to see P.J., his high-school sweetheart. Uh-oh! She's been kidnapped! The future's in peril again! It's up to Jack, telepathic pooch Gisco and "Ninjababe" Eko to save the rainforests from the fiendish depredations of a spidery super-villain! Except they don't really do anything. Everything comes down to some mystic-wizard-ex-machina, actually named "the Mysterious Kidah." We keep hearing how brave and smart P.J. is, but mostly she gets tied up and screams "Ja-a-ack! Help!" Oh, and trades catty comments with Eko over who's going to end up with Jack. But hey, look! Unspoiled nature-wise indigenous tribes! Evil drug smugglers! Hot-air balloons! Scary gross Amazonian critters! Ninety-two chapters. Ninety-two cliffhangers. Guys looking for nonstop action with a heavy dose of political correctness will eat this up. Anyone looking for careful writing, character development or a thoughtful exploration of important issues will throw it against the wall. (Science fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
April Fool's Day in Hadley-by-Hudson. Spring chill cutting sharp as a blade. Dusk descending. Musty smell of nearby river clotting my throat. Had enough sentence fragments? My English teacher said they were a weakness of mine. But that was nearly six months ago, when I was a senior at Hadley High School, leading a normal life. My biggest concerns then were chicks, flicks, and fast cars, roughly in that order.
Nothing normal about me now.
Parents gone. Friends lost. Old life vanished. Sense of security evaporated. Belief in the sanity of day-to-day existence drowned in the deep Atlantic.
But I still like sentence fragments. They generate pace. You want pace? Stick around.
Main street of Hadley. Six in the evening. People I know, or at least used to know, climbing in and out of cars. Buying groceries in the co-op. Picking up dry cleaning. Heading home to eat dinner with their families.
They pass me. Rub shoulders. None of them give me a second look. Don't you remember me? Jack Danielson? Straw-colored hair, piercing blue eyes, and above-average brain power, except when I do something really stupid. Once gained three hundred and forty yards in a school football game.
No, they don't remember.
Can't blame them. So much has changed.
Swore I'd never come back here. Too many memories. There's the Rec Center where I played hoops. The liquor store where weused to get Dan's older brother to buy us six-packs. The ice cream shop where P.J. and I would split double-chocolate cones with sprinkles.
P.J. Her house is three blocks from here. Do I dare? Yes, that's why I'm here. I tried my best to run away from this moment. Tried to pretend I could make a new life. Realize there's no explanation I can give that will satisfy her. She'll be furious at me for disappearing. Maybe we can never repair it. Never regain what we had.
Trust gone. Foundation of relationship caved in.
Doesn't matter. Have to try. Because I still love her. That's why I came back. Pure selfishness. Clinging to last possession. My love for P.J. is all I've got left.
Pass Mrs. Hayes. My third-grade teacher. Her eyes flick over me. And then away.
Not completely her fault she didn't recognize me. I've taken a few precautions. Wearing a cap, tilted low. Dark scarf, wound high. Grown a scraggly mustache, my first. Hair hasn't been cut in three months. It falls to my shoulders in straw-colored mop.
But I can't hide my eyes. Supposedly the windows to the soul. That's what Mrs. Hayes didn't recognize as she walked by me holding a sack with toilet paper and cat food peeking out the top.
New windows? Or is it a whole new soul? Did what happened to me change me to the point where I'm no longer myself? Or is this still me, walking away from the center of town, heading slowly up Elm Street?
No doubt my Firestorm adventure and the long journey home transformed me. I've been so lonely. Spent so many sleepless nights staring up at the stars, trying to figure things out. Why was I chosen? If there's a God, why did he or she let things get so messed up? Is our Earth really so fragile? If this is the Turning Point, can we save it? Do our lives have meaning, or is it all for nothing?
Many questions. No answers. But when you agonize longenough, it doesn't matter if you come up with answers. The questions and the pain change you.
I know I'm very different from the guy who drove P.J. home from the Hudson River make-out spot six months ago, his mind on sex and football. But is he still recognizably part of me? Is there any Jack Danielson left in me?
Only one way to find out. Last remaining touchstone. The ultimate litmus test. P.J.
Here's a sad but true definition of home: it's where you go to find out if you're still you, or if you've become somebody else.
Less than two blocks from P.J.'s house. I slow down. Scared out of my mind. This was a bad idea. Should have tried to make a go of it in England, where I landed after my Firestorm adventure. Or joined the crew of the tramp steamer that brought me back across the Atlantic to America. Could have stayed in Maine, in the small port city where it never stopped snowing. Might have hung longer in Boston, where I got a job stacking crates. Guy in the warehouse needed a roommate.
But I had to come home. A soft voice kept calling to me. Whispering across the months and the miles. "I'm still waiting for you. Come home, Bozo."
P.J.'s nickname for me. Not very respectful.
Less than one block from her house. I can see the outline of her roof against the evening sky. The walls. My God, she's inside there! She's been there for the last six months without me. Doing her homework. Eating cereal for breakfast. Talking to her friends. Dreaming her dreams.
Half a block. Her window. No light on. Maybe she's studying at the library. I should go check there first.
No, don't leave. If I chicken out now, I'll never come back. Better to be a man and tell her what happened.
Sure, just tell her the truth.
Hi, honey. Sorry. I didn't mean to disappear. But members of something called the Dark Army came one night and killed bothmy parents. It turns out they weren't my parents after all. They were just sheltering me.
I'm from a thousand years in the future, when things are pretty bleak. I was sent back to find something called Firestorm and save the oceans, thereby improving living conditions centuries hence. A telepathic dog and a beautiful shape-changing woman helped me. I did what they asked. I found Firestorm and I destroyed a giant trawler fleet. But then the dog and the woman blinked out, leaving me alone. And now I'm back. Sorry I didn't write or call. And how have you been the last six months, P.J.? Did you have a good Christmas? And how's the French Club?
I stop in my tracks. What the heck am I doing here? I can't tell her the truth. And I won't tell her a lie. So I can't tell her anything. I know in my heart I can't come back here. Don't belong anymore. Been away too long. Caused too much grief. Passed the point of no return.
I turn slowly, and take a half step away. Then a hand grips my arm. "Jack? Is that you?"
Copyright © 2008 by David Klass