CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 14 . . . . December 9, 2016
River Traffic tells the story of Tom, a teenager who lives and works at his dad's marina in Ontario. Tom loves boats and being on the water, but things have become a little more stressful at the marina since business is slow and Tom's dad is feeling the financial strain and acting secretive. At Tom's volunteer job at the police station, an officer asks him to keep his eyes open on the water and to report any suspicious behavior or people. When a fancy yacht pulls into his marina and a girl and her intimidating father disembark, Tom begins to feel that something is going on in his small town. Eventually, a boat chase ensues during a raging storm and ends in Tom's discovery that the FBI are working an operation in his small town, and he just had a hand in helping catch smugglers on the river.
This novel is part of the "Orca Soundings" series, a series of books designed to appeal to teenage reluctant readers. River Traffic is a high interest read that engages the reader from the very beginning as is shown in the excerpt above. Immediate action and an introduction to the main character all take place in the opening chapter. The vocabulary is very straightforward and has few challenging words. I expected there to be more mechanical or watersports-related words, but there were little to none. It might have been nice if more were introduced as this subject could appeal to a lot of readers. This book is directed mainly at male readers, largely due to the secondary character of Kat, who is introduced as "a pair of long, curvy, suntanned legs". While this romance could have been done away with, and its presence will alienate a lot of female readers with the superficial character of Kat, it likely adds some appeal to male readers. Despite these critiques, River Traffic is a very quick read that has non-stop action as well as some history of the rum-running business on the Detroit River.
While River Traffic is not a novel a dedicated reader would pick up, it definitely has appeal to those who are reluctant to read.
Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies Program from the University of Alberta.
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