CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 1. . . .September 5, 2014
Broken Arrow. (The Seven Sequels).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
221 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $10.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0540-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0541-5 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0542-2 (epub).
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Amber Allen.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Laia and I stared at each other, and I blurted out, “I don’t want anything to do with this.”
Laia regarded me curiously for a moment. “Why not?”
I took a few seconds to organize my feelings into words. “Because I feel invaded. I’m on holiday, with you. I didn’t ask to be involved in whatever DJ and the others have found. DJ’s being overly dramatic. A week to clear his name? What does that mean? It’s DJ not wanting the wonderful image he has of Grandfather to be tarnished. I just want to meet your father and have a holiday with you, not go running off on some wild-goose chase.” I was surprised by my reaction and by how strongly I felt, surprised that I really didn’t want DJ intruding on my life this much.
Laia looked at me thoughtfully. “You are involved now, whether you want to be or not,” she said.
Broken Arrow, the sequel to 2012’s Lost Cause, takes place a few months after readers’ first introduction to Steve and his enigmatic, deceased grandfather. Thanks to careful planning, saving, and working to convince his mom, Steve is on his way back to Spain for Christmas to spend time with the captivating Laia. After the whirlwind quest they completed in the summer, he’s had some time to deal with the secrets revealed about his grandfather, and he is looking forward to a relaxing vacation, with plenty of time to get to know Laia better. Things take a turn towards the adventurous, however, when his brother DJ sends him a text message from the cabin, a message with new information about the family patriarch that sends Steve on the hunt for a new set of answers in order to clear his grandfather’s name. Dodging seedy characters and exploring beautiful Spanish landscapes, Steve sets out to solve the mystery with Laia by his side.
John Wilson does an excellent job of bringing readers back into Steve’s world right from the first chapter, detailing the emotions and desires of the protagonist in the character’s own words. While this title has a lot to offer as a standalone—without too much lead up to the action and just enough backstory to afford understanding—it does best as a sequel, with the feel that truly only a few months have passed. This time, the book focuses more on the present day action, but the intrigue is still very much tied to the past. As Laia and Steve attempt to uncover the pieces that will unfold the story, readers get insight into the culture of Spain and its deeply rooted history. One of Broken Arrow’s definite strengths is the dialogue as it differentiates characters, moves the plot forward at a perfect pace, and introduces facts in an easily digestible way. With its absorbing beginning, unpredictable ending, and series of heart-stopping encounters in between, Broken Arrow is a great bet for the male tween demographic, though girls will like it, too!
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.
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