YA-This best-selling Chilean author is known for her poetic, subtly feminist, and politically charged novels such as La casa de los espiritus (The House of the Spirits, Rayo, 2001) and most recently Retrato en sepia (Portrait in Sepia, Rayo, 2001). Allende's celebrated mixture of magic realism, lush description, and psychological insight grace the pages of this, her first young adult novel. Alexander Cold, an introspective 15-year-old, is ripped from his comfortable California existence and launched into the heart of darkness. On a journalistic assignment for International Geographic, the teen, his grandmother Kate, and crew embark on a deadly mission into the Amazon jungle to find the mythical beast, the South American equivalent of the Abominable Snowman. In this coming-of-age story, Alexander and his new friend, Nadia, discover their hidden powers as they strive to save the indigenous people or "la gente de la neblina" ("the people of the mist"). This tale anchors itself in the need to protect the resplendent secrets of the Amazon and its people, beasts, and resources. Suspenseful chapters like "Raptados" ("Kidnapped") and beautifully crafted descriptions do not, however, nullify this novel's repetitive nature and sometimes predictable plot. While the language is easily understood, the novel's length may be daunting to most young adult readers. Recommended for libraries and bookstores with large Spanish-language teen sections.Salwa Jabado, Astoria, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.