CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 1. . . .September 5, 2014
Sleeper. (The Seven Sequels).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
222 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $10.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0543-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0544-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0545-3 (epub).
Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.
Review by Rob Bittner.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
“We can figure it out. We have almost a week before our parents will even know we weren’t here,” Spencer said.
“And enough money to get wherever we need to go,” Adam added.
I picked up the Spanish passport and the notes that went with it. “Steve is already in Spain.” I wished he was right here to help make sense of things. As soon as I had a minute, I’d text him and try to explain what had happened—assuming I could explain it to myself.
Webb nodded his head, and a grin came to his face. “We could do it, right?”
Everybody turned to me. “I think it’s even more than we could do it,” I said. “We need to do it. One more adventure that Grandpa didn’t even know he was going to send us on!”
In the wake of his earlier adventure climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (an adventure previously written about by Walters in Between Heaven and Earth), 17-year-old DJ is about to embark on a new adventure to England. While meeting with his cousins at his deceased grandfather’s cabin to reminisce and remember their departed relative, the boys discover a secret compartment behind the wood pile. Inside the compartment is a whole lot of cash, a number of passports, a gun, a mesh bag of golf balls with Russian letters on them, and a notebook full of codes and a rather cryptic message on the first page: “I always did what needed to be done. Nothing more and nothing less.” The boys decide to use the cash and spread out around the globe to figure out what their grandfather was actually involved in. The seven stories, similar to “Seven the Series,” the first account of the boys’ adventures, are thus initiated.
In Sleeper, DJ flies to England, calling on his friend, Doris, whom he first met while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Upon DJ’s arrival at the airport, he is red-flagged, pulled aside by agents at customs, and interrogated. When he is finally released, the adventures truly begin. Doris and her friends from a Sherlock Holmes club attempt to help DJ decipher the messages in the notebook. Meanwhile, DJ and Doris’s granddaughter, Charlie, start tracking down some of the clues they have uncovered, but soon find themselves being followed, first by paparazzi (Charlie has some secrets of her own, after all), and then by more nefarious individuals. Readers will find themselves rooting for DJ and Charlie as they get chased around London with a strange taxi driver and a retired MI6 agent who may or may not be going insane.
The novel moves quickly and relies on plot rather than character development. Not that there is no development of the main characters, but as DJ and Charlie are central, everyone else who is peripheral is given little in the way of growth or maturation in the overall story arc. If anything, the grandfather, who is deceased from the beginning, is actually the most fleshed out of everyone in the book(s). My only concern is with the quick wrap-up at the end, which not only will leave readers guessing (not always a bad thing!), but takes place in one conversation in a cab over the course of only a few pages. DJ’s run-in with government agents and other individuals in authority is rather fun and drives the plot along, but the rapidity of it all feels excessive at points.
Though Sleeper feels over-the-top at times, the setting is vibrant, and the thrills are a mile-a-minute. Fans of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and other action/espionage heroes will find much to love in Walters’ latest book for young readers.
Rob Bittner is a graduate of the MA in Children’s Literature program at The University of British Columbia and he is now a PhD student in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC.
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