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STEEL TRAPP by Ridley Pearson


The Challenge

by Ridley Pearson

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: March 25th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4231-0640-1
Publisher: Disney Editions

Pearson’s second solo outing for young audiences resembles his adult thrillers—sans all of the sex and most of the violence—even featuring Federal Agent Roland Larson from Cut and Run (2005) in a supporting role. On his way to the finals of the National Science Challenge in Washington, D.C., geeky teen Steven “Steel” Trapp (named for his photographic memory) finds himself in possession of a briefcase that contains clues to a massive heist being engineered by mob and terrorist groups. His quest to solve those clues in time leads to chasing and being chased by both the baddies and the Feds. With help from equally geeky accomplice Kaileigh, plus a number of huge contrivances, he stays a step ahead until the suspenseful climax. The author’s fondness for clichés (“There had to be a way. There just had to be.” “We’re into this one on a wing and a prayer”) and his habit of repeating information already given, keep this out of the top drawer, but it’s a brisk scramble nonetheless, crafted in no fewer than 80 chapters of quick prose and featuring both a (fairly) credible crime scenario and an engaging cast. (Fiction. 11-13)