CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 12. . . November 24, 2017
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.
Penta Ledger is a teacher librarian at Gravenhurst High School in Gravenhurst, ON.
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Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.