________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 12. . . November 24, 2017


Infiltrate. (Retribution).

Judith Graves.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2017.
148 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-4598-0723-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1488-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1489-9 (epub).

Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.

Review by Penta Ledger.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.


I was wrecked after not once but twice failing to help kids who deeply needed it. When Supersize died, I’d promised myself I would do whatever I could, whatever it took, to not feel like that again. And yet here I was, the same raw mixture of guilt, regret and rage making pretzels of my insides. At least Jo would have keen spidey senses if anything out of the ordinary happened on our recon mission.

After making short work of the teacher-access lock and the deadbolt on Chappet’s door, we settled into rooting through a few five-drawer filing cabinets.

The counselor was a true hoarder. There were articles from various medical and psychiatric magazines dating all the way back to the ‘80s.

Zero files regarding students. I found myself growling in frustration as I opened yet another drawer of folders filled with clippings. “Argh...still nothing. It’s like she’s deliberately messing with us.”

Jo groaned. “I know, right? Wait, what’s this?” She pointed to an empty space among all the paper stacks and clutter on Chappet’s desk, one about the size of a laptop. “I guess she’s not so old school after all. She’s probably got the student files on her laptop and takes it home every night. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow and sneak back in here.”

I bit back a curse and slammed the filing-cabinet drawer shut. The force jarred a few items off the top.

A sticky note fluttered to the floor at my feet.

Harborview Anxiety Treatment Center

Student referrals only.

Then two names, underlined.

Kendra Cody “Gotcha.” I turned the note over in my hands. “Both of them were referred to this place. Both dead in the same week. I have to go and check this out.”

Jo waved a few pages under my nose.

“And I just found their referral letters - handwritten, as Jace predicted.” She moved to the small photocopier in the corner of the office. “I can forge the shrink’s handwriting and create a letter for you.” Her grin was evil. “I knew that OCD of yours would come in handy someday.”

I frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Your neat-freak impulses, the minor case of obsessive-compulsive disorder you’re sporting. OCD is all part of anxiety, Rave.” She smiled. “Unless you end up dead, this just might be good for you.”


Raven is not your typical teenage girl. Topping her passions is free climbing anything from tall buildings to bridges, but this isn’t the only thing she’s got going on in her life. She is a part of an underground fringe group dedicated to helping teens who are in trouble. Working with their own hard-gotten skills, including lock picking, computer hacking, and careful planning, this group is working to infiltrate their biggest job yet!

     Running away from her addict parents at an early age, Raven was taken in by Diesel, an owner of an illegal chop shop, who took care of her and taught her the skills she would need to steal cars. After several years, however, Raven left Diesel and the group in search of something different. Living alone on a boat and going to high school, Raven still finds the time to be a part of Team Retribution, hoping to help teens who cannot help themselves. Though they are an ‘off the grid’ team, they do have some help from the officer father of Raven’s crush, Emmett. Though Emmett is “all in” where Raven’s concerned, she just isn’t ready to let him in on all her secrets - including her absentee parents. Though Raven doesn’t know where her parents are, the group’s hacking expert, Bentley, is slowly building a file, even though Raven was clear that she doesn’t want anything to do with them.

     On a particular morning when Raven is free climbing a bridge, she happens upon another girl high on top of the same bridge. The girl looks unsure, as if she’s going to jump to her death. Raven calls out to her to offer help, but the girl quickly moves away and runs into the bush. Later, Raven learns that the girl went back up the bridge and eventually did jump, falling to her death. The girl was a student at Raven’s school.

     With this incident still on her mind, Raven continues with the job at hand, investigating a boy’s house to determine if his suspicions about his stepmother trying to kill him, are correct. While looking around the house for evidence, Raven listens to the news from a nearby television. She learns that another student from her school murdered his younger sister and then killed himself. For Raven, this is too much of a coincidence, and, after concluding that the stepmother is not plotting a murder but overdosing with healthy bran, Raven returns to the team to look more closely at the strange suicides.

     With the team together, they brainstorm possible similarities. Quickly, they suggest that each of these students must have seen the school’s counselor, Mrs. Chappet. After a little school file hacking, their suspicions are correct - the students had seen Mrs. Chappet for test-anxiety issues. Knowing this, Raven sets a plan to break into the counselor's office to see what she can find out.

     Using the team’s careful planning and Raven’s climbing skills, she gets into Mrs. Chappet’s office and finds handwritten referrals to Harborview Anxiety Treatment Center made out for each of the students. Raven’s next step is to go undercover as one of Mrs. Chappet’s referrals to see what the center is really about. With a forged document in hand, Raven introduces herself and is accepted into the trials.

     Once in the trial, she is transported in a blacked out bus to another location with other young people, some who are homeless and some who have done this trial before simply to keep off the street and be fed. Shortly, Raven uncovers the fact that this center is conducting unregulated drug trials on teens without parental nor government consent. Clearly, the drugs had negative effects on the students from her school causing them to commit suicide. Raven is given the drugs without her knowledge, and, fighting through the fierce side effects, she breaks free and eventually finds herself back within the safety of her team. Here, they execute a plan that reveals the unlawful drug trials and blows the center out of the water.

     At the close of Infiltrate, the center is exposed, and the team is, yet again, successful. As things wind down and Raven takes time to relax, Bentley hands her a slip-drive with everything he could find about her parents. Now she’s faced with what she’s going to do with it.

     Infiltrate successfully takes readers on a action adventure trip. Though the plot does ask readers to suspend belief with teen Raven attending high school while working covertly with The Retribution Team, the story is interesting and well-crafted. The ending, although somewhat abrupt, lends itself to a further book in this series.

     Graves’ writing is succinct and easily accessible. It speaks to the adventurous spirit of teens with a hint of daring mixed with skill. Infiltrate would be a very enjoyable text for teen readers who are looking for a pointed adventure mystery that keeps them wondering what will happen next.

Highly Recommended.

Penta Ledger is a teacher librarian at Gravenhurst High School in Gravenhurst, ON.

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

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