________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 19 . . . . May 11, 2007


I.D. (Orca Soundings).

Vicki Grant.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2007.
101 pp., pbk. & cl., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 978-1-55143-694-4 (pbk), ISBN 978-1-55143-696-8 (cl.).

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Shannon Ozirny.

*** /4


I went to the washroom. I thought I was going to puke. This was like playing Russian roulette. How many blanks could I fire before I got hit by a real bullet? I couldn't stand it anymore. If I didn't need ID to get on the plane, I would have thrown the wallet away right then.

I splashed cold water on my face and tried to calm down. I looked in the mirror. My haircut looked like crap. Ashbury would never have a bad haircut. He could afford a good one. It was going to look suspicious.


Christopher Bent, a disgruntled high school senior, has seemingly won the lottery. After finding a wallet full of cash and credit cards, Chris uses the golden opportunity to leave his dysfunctional home, tyrannical teacher, and oppressive town. He seems successful in shaking his old skin, but one false move makes for an undeniably suspenseful and surprising conclusion.

     I.D. is part of the “Orca Soundings” series, a collection of books dubbed "Hi/Lo" aimed at hesitant teens struggling to read at grade level. Truly, writers of hi/lo fiction are often undervalued. Without question, the stringent parameters of the genre demand an inventive, skilled author who can artfully manipulate short sentences and a limited vocabulary. Indeed, Vicki Grant is no exception. Her coherent, snappy prose maintain a steady pace, and she even manages to hide some uncomplicated similes within the narrative. That being said, the book barely clears one hundred pages, and the sparse text is undeniably motivating; readers will feel able to commit to this book before cracking its cover.

     Like many of the “Orca Soundings” titles, the subject matter in I.D. is current and intriguing, especially considering some of the latest headlines on credit card and identity theft.  Chris spends most of his time debating the ethics of his actions, but this internal discourse is both entertaining and captivating. I.D. allows reluctant teen readers to enter the head of a character not unlike themselves, and this is undoubtedly the book's biggest strength.

     Unfortunately, the book cover does not reflect this internal richness. Rather than appearing contemporary or flashy, the front cover of this book (and many others in the series) looks generic and lifeless. From the cover alone, it is impossible to discern the tone of the text; at best, it promises a boring look at three anonymous, bald triplets. I encourage teachers, librarians, and parents to push past this lackluster packaging, and pass I.D. on to a male reader looking for a combination of realism and suspense. Young adults will find this book engaging and authentic, even with the absence of violence and real swearing (the worst is of the "frig" variety).  An unresolved, shocking ending also makes this book perfect for the teenage boy unable to digest the massive tomes of best-selling, adult crime fiction. In I.D., a compelling, rewarding read hides beneath the glaring Hi/Lo label.


Shannon Ozirny is a student in the Master of Arts in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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