Thursday, March 26, 2015

Nowhere to Hide - Sigmund Brouwer

Nowhere to HideMarch 25, 2014

Sigmund Brouwer
  Harvest House Publishers
Release Date:
  March 1, 2015
Young Adult, Suspense
224 pages
My Rating:


 About This Book (from Goodreads)
William King and Blake Watt have just settled into their senior year of high school when they receive a call for help--the authorities need to use their computer skills to track down a father who has failed to make child-support payments. The invitation to become cyber bounty hunters is so tempting, they don't stop to ask why they were chosen for this assignment.

As they learn more about the man they are searching for, they discover the true nature of their mission--to help the founder of a Seattle-based software company prove that he is innocent of a much different charge. But the scariest things they learn are why they were chosen and why they were supposed to remain in the background.

You'll love following the surprising twists and turns in this fast-paced young-adult thriller from a gifted storyteller who has nearly three million books in print.

How and Why I Acquired This Book
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.  It looked like an interesting YA read by an author I was not familiar with.

My Expectations about This Book
In starting this book, I didn’t realize it was actually the second book in a series, the first book being Dead Man’s Switch.  Had I known that ahead of time and read the initial book first, it might have changed some of my thoughts on this book.  It would have made some parts of the character interaction and the references make more sense.  Although Nowhere to Hide is readable as a standalone (as I did), I don’t think I would recommend it that way.

Also, since my review copy was digital it had several grammatical issues and mistakes as well as every few paragraphs the story was interrupted with either a tag line of the author’s name or a statement about not reproducing the text in any way.  Both things that a reader doesn’t need to deal with in the final digital and print versions, I’m sure.  But for full disclosure’s sake, I think that did interrupt the flow for me and make the reading less enjoyable.

Were my expectations met?

I expected an intense, fast-paced YA novel about two teens helping out the CIA while being students.  What I received was a fast paced novel, but about three teens on their summer break.  Well, really, just one teen, King, was the focus of the book.  MJ and Blake played roles intermittently but were not central to the story.  That was primarily King and CIA Agent Evans. 

Also, there wasn’t very much to do with computer skills or cyber bounty hunting.  Most of that was done by Blake, and you learn about it in hindsight during the first few chapters. 
Still an interesting story.  Also rather confusing at times.  In fact, I’m still not sure I fully grasped all of the plot twists and redirections.

Prose & Dialogue
For the most part, the scenes and the dialogue flowed well.  There were a few times I had to go back and re-read as I thought I had missed something. 

The descriptions of the settings were great.  Just enough detail to make you feel like you’re there but not so much you get bored.
I think that Brouwer nailed King’s dialogue as well as that of Evans and even some of the other CIA agents involved.  The parents and other two boys seemed more like caricatures than realistic, growing characters.

Characters & Points-of-View
I don’t know that I believed any of the characters or situations could occur in real life.  Two super-smart boys being raised and homeschooled on an island that houses a prison.  The CIA regularly utilizing the skills of said boys.  If it was true to life, homeschooling really has worked out for King and made him advanced well beyond his years. 

I don’t believe there were too many characters to keep up with.  Too many plot twists and one-eighties in the overall story, perhaps.

Story Structure & Pace
The pace of this story was quick, which will appeal to the YA audience targeted.  However, I am used to reading quick paced suspense books written on an adult level.  Yet this book confused me and completely lost me at times more than any of those adult books have.

At the start of the book, there is mention of Mr. King betraying his son.  By the final page, I still wasn’t really clear on what that betrayal was.  Was his dad in on the whole thing from the start with the tech guru?  I don’t think so but am not 100% positive.
Questionable Content

I don’t believe there is any truly questionable content.  Targeting an audience of teen male readers means that of course there are some references to bodily functions and smelly socks.  However, I wouldn’t say any of that is offensive.

Originality & Predictability
I will give the book this:  I was guessing clear to the final page.  And have still been guessing since I finished it.  So it’s a book that sticks with you as you try to figure it out.  The frustration is that I’m not sure it can be figured out.  Plus, the story wasn’t compelling enough for me to want to re-read the whole thing again with the added value of hindsight.

Audience Appropriateness & Appeal
The target audience is young adult.  I would even further define it as young adult (probably middle school through freshman) males.  There are only two female characters outside of the mothers, and all female characters definitely have a very background role.  So I don’t think this book would appeal as much to girls.

I do believe it would appeal to both conservative and mainstream readers.  As a movie it would probably be rated PG.

Engagement, Entertainment & Investment
The character of King and his dynamic with Evans is probably enough to pull off additional books in the series.  However, I would recommend reading them as a series and not as standalone titles

In conclusion, I think this was an okay young adult suspense novel.  I appreciated the lack of vulgar language and sex that seems prevalent in so much YA literature these days.  I enjoyed the story line for the most part.  I was just frustrated by my confusion throughout.

·         A fresh approach to a YA world full of language and sex
·         An engaging character in King
·         Fast-paced

·         Confusing at times – perhaps reading the first book would help

**Review will be posted on The Christian Manifesto website 05.20.15

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