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OUTLAW by Stephen Davies

OUTLAW

By Stephen Davies

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-39017-8
Publisher: Clarion

Kidnapped by outlaws in a small African country with some rough terrain, Jake and his sister Kas use their savvy to both get themselves free and make sure that the culprit is caught.

Jake plays "geothimble," a game his friends invented that is similar to geocaching and involves a heap of physicality. In trouble for climbing into a prison as part of the game, Jake is sent home from his English boarding school to Burkina Faso, where his diplomat father is stationed, and is almost immediately kidnapped, along with his sister. The adults want to use all the resources at hand to free Jake and Kas, but it gradually becomes clear that this is not a straightforward crime; it calls for subtlety. The landscape and culture provide an intriguing setting without bogging down the fast-paced plot. Davies, a missionary who lives in Burkina Faso, credibly demonstrates that a place's seeming exoticism does not make it uncomplicated. Most characters that could have been stereotypes are pleasingly well-rounded, although the villains are definitely one-dimensional. Surprisingly, technology is a key ingredient in the unfolding events, and Jake’s knowledge and skills are key to their survival. The outlaw at the heart of the plot, Yakuuba Sor, brings a heartening complexity and morality to this seldom-seen setting.

Nonstop action in the African desert. (Adventure. 10-14)