________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 14 . . . . December 9, 2016


River Traffic. (Orca Soundings).

Martha Brack Martin.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
126 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1336-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1337-3 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1338-0 (epub).

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.

Review by Stephanie Johnson.

**½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I had only seconds to spare. The other machine was right on my tail. If I turned too soon, I'd be dead. I squeezed the throttle and pulled ahead a few more meters. I risked a second glance back at the other Jet Ski in my wake. It was closing in! I carved the water as I swung my machine to the right…

And suddenly I was airborne.

I felt the yank on my life jacket as I flew off, taking the ignition key with me. Then a shock as I hit the cold river water. Coming up, I checked on my machine. It was nearby, bobbing in the waves. Nate held the steering wheel. He didn't look as thrilled as I thought he would. After all, he'd just won our race.

"You beat me! Why aren't you happy?" I yelled. Nate was looking past me, over my shoulder.

I whipped my head around.

Dominik Oleg, the biggest jerk in the world, was in a sleek speedboat idling just behind me. His ride must have cost at least $50,000. He looked down at me as I bobbed in the water.

"Of course he won." Oleg smirked, moving his boat closer as Nate brought my Jet Ski over. "You could never win any race with that piece of crap, LeFave.…

"Shut up, Oleg. At least I paid for my machine myself. I didn't need my daddy to buy it for me."

Oleg's eyes flared. I knew I'd hit a nerve…

"You boys are playing in my backyard. And you're way out of your league." He suddenly honked his boat's horn, scaring the crap out of Nate and me. His grin was a nasty threat.

"Don't play with the big boys. You won't like how the game ends."

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.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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