Reide’s debut YA novel, the first book in her Adventurers series, offers a little bit of conflict and a lot of escapades.
Twelve-year-old Dana, a city girl, arrives in the tiny town of Troll Creek (population 200) to spend two weeks of her summer vacation with her soon-to-be stepsiblings, Amy, 14, and Jack, 11. Neither girl is happy about the visit—or their parents’ impending marriage—and each takes an instant dislike to the other. Soon after Dana’s arrival, the trio sets out on mountain bikes to camp out near an abandoned coal mine. Along the way, Dana and Amy try to outcycle each other, while Jack tries to keep peace with soothing remarks and the sandwiches for which he’s famous: hummus, apple, tomato, carrot and avocado on pumpernickel bread. On the second day, Dana accidentally falls off a cliff and must spend a dark and very stormy night alone in a cave, which, as the twisty plot would have it, leads directly to the old mine. In the mine’s numerous, often collapsed tunnels, the kids manage to reunite, and they also find skeletons, stolen goods and a masked man with a gun. Although readers may find it refreshing to have girls do the fighting and a boy do the “cooking,” the author doesn’t flesh out any of the characters enough for them to be especially memorable. That said, their relationships do evolve, as their survival depends not just on smarts and spunk, but also on cooperation. Middle-grade readers will appreciate the fact that there are hardly any adults around except for the bad guys, who aren’t too hard for the heroes to outwit. The fast pace, too, will keep them eagerly turning pages.
An entertaining, if somewhat undemanding, YA adventure.