2010 Christmas Holiday Reading List. Author Tamara Hart Heiner from the blog Chasing Dreams is the author of the YA book Perilous.
As far as I know I don't think I've ever read anything that is considered young adult or teenage literature unless the Tom Swift and Hardy Boys series would fall into this genre. I wasn't totally sure what to expect from a genre labeled as "Young Adult", but Heiner's first published novel is pretty much what I thought I would find.
Since I guess I am a good ways past the "young adult" phase I decided that I would have to try to read Perilous through the eyes of a younger reader and imagine how they might see this novel. My impression that most teens, male and female alike, would enjoy the story and the way Tamara presents it. And for that matter so did I as an older reader.
This is an exciting action thriller that moves with intensity. Four teen-age girls witness a jewel heist at a shopping mall and are abducted by the burglary gang. They are taken from Idaho to the headquarters of the gang's ringleader, a notorious criminal known as "The Hand", who hides out in Quebec, Canada. The stakes are raised after the girls escape from the gang's hideout and attempt to make their way home on foot, not knowing whom to trust since The Hand is intent on finding them.
The story relies on some rather extreme coincidence and some illogical behavior from the characters, but that's what helps make the story more intriguing. Some readers may need to add an extra dose of willing suspension of disbelief to keep from rolling their eyes at some things in the story, but I think most younger readers will be fine with it. I was certainly willing to go along with all of it in order to enjoy the story. Tamara has skillfully presented the story so that everything happens with a natural flow and the readers are kept on the edge of their seats to see what happens next.
Perilous is mostly a road story--a journey home. Tamara does an exceptional job of depicting that journey. In fact, I pulled out my North American highway atlas to see if the places she mentions and the route her characters take were accurate. The author did her research well. I was able to follow the teens' journey and felt like I was right there with them. I was very impressed by sense of place and the descriptions of settings in the novel.
This book deals with some mature and serious themes including violence and rape. It raises some questions of moral ambiguity related to stealing, divorce, and corruption. However, all of these issues are presented discreetly and in good taste. The issues allow for some good topics of discussion and thought. Perilous is a wholesomely presented story of real life problems and is suitable for all teens.
Tamara Hart Heiner's Perilous is a book that parents should feel comfortable in allowing their teenagers to read. It's also a book that I would recommend to adult readers who like a well told story that avoids bad language and scenes that one might deem offensive. This is a fun reading diversion that deals with relevant topics.
One of the bigger issues that some may find with this book it that it leaves a lot of loose ends. Those who want their endings neat and resolved may be disappointed. This book demands a sequel or perhaps even a series. I was sad to see the book end where it did and was left wanting more. Now I'll have to wait for the next book. Don't leave us waiting too long, Tamara.
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