Dylan Barstow, “major screw-up from Wisconsin,” finds his life changed by a trip to Papua New Guinea.
Dylan has been in trouble with the law many times, even though he’s just going into the eighth grade; he has “a file as thick as a phone book.” Last time, it was for stealing candy bars; this time, he stole a car and took a joy ride through a planted field, tearing down the fence and wrecking the car. Since his father, a war correspondent, was killed covering the genocide in Darfur, Dylan has been an angry young man, disaffected and thumbing his nose at the world. His mother has had enough and unloads Dylan on Uncle Todd, who takes him to Papua New Guinea to locate the B-17 bomber Dylan’s grandfather crashed in the jungle during World War II. Uncle Todd figures an encounter with the jungle, swamps, 14,000-foot mountains, crocodiles and snakes just might make a man of Dylan. The third-person perspective is appropriate here, as a narrative in Dylan’s voice would be dripping with his anger, cynicism and self-absorption. The story weaves a father’s letter, the grandfather’s journal entries and plenty of hallucinatory jungle-survival scenes to make this a fast-paced adventure with quick resolutions.
Apparently, it takes a jungle to raise a child, and Dylan’s story will connect with readers seeking adventure. (author’s note) (Adventure. 9-13)