Only months after an aborted attempt to summit Everest (Peak, 2007), 15-year-old Peak Marcello travels with his mother and a crew of videographers to Afghanistan to participate in an international peace climb.
With 200 climbers from all over the world, climbing in multiple locations around the globe, there are bound to be problems. But for Peak and his fellow climbers, the stakes are particularly high. Even though Afghanistan is not officially at war, its various factions are always at odds and looking for ways to use high-profile events to draw attention to their separate causes. A group of ruthless mercenaries kidnaps several of the climbers, including Peak’s mother, and kills many of them. Peak, with guidance from Zopa, the Buddhist monk and climbing master, and Ethan, a fellow climber and daredevil, must track the kidnappers through the desert and rescue the captives before anyone else is killed. While the climbing details are interesting and the setting in Afghanistan is a suitably dangerous and stark backdrop, the story is far from riveting. Awkward pacing, one-dimensional characters, and long stretches of exposition designed to educate readers in climbing minutiae and Afghan history further slow the action.
Fails to summit. (Adventure. 12-16)