Tuesday, October 23, 2012

RISK: The Second Adventure in the Quest for Truth

Do you and your kids love technology, fast-paced adventure and page-turning excitement? Brock Eastman's book, Risk:The Quest for Truth Book 2, is sure to please younger and older readers, alike.  
We jump into the story when Oliver, Tiffany, Mason and Austin are piloting their parent's spaceship, the Phoenix, on their way to Evad, a distant planet housing an ancient civilization. They have reason to believe their parents have been captured by enemy forces (the Ubel), and are also on their way to Evad. The children's parents are renowned archaeologists, and the Ubel troops believe they hold the key to unlocking secret truths.

Oliver and Tiffany, the oldest children, along with their twin younger brothers, Mason and Austin, are convinced they can unlock the secrets first, as well as rescue their parents. Although Mason's arrogant independence often puts the children in danger, the siblings work together to cross gorges, scale ziggurats, revive ancient technology, and solve the riddles of an underwater maze. The fact the maze is made out of rubies and shaped like a cross becomes even more significant when a mysterious red-cloaked stranger gives Mason sustenance, clues and a history lesson.

With devices like an mTalk, Zingers, Zappers, and Oxyverters, Eastman shows a love of modern technology, as well as an affinity for inventing. Readers will enjoy seeing what his creative mind comes up with. There is an expansive, illustrated "Visual Glossary" in the back of the book, useful for looking up devices, planets, people and political groups.

What I Like: Eastman's plot is clever, the characters are believable, and the action is well-paced.  Although readers do have down time to process new information and think about how the characters feel, the action never slows enough for them to lose interest. Also, the book is suspenseful and exciting without ever being gory or horrifying.

This book does a fantastic job of appealing to boys and girls at the lower and upper end of the targeted age range. Oliver is seventeen and has just completed his first year of training at a specialized academy.  As the oldest, he feels responsible for leading a successful mission to rescue his parents, find the lost key, and keep his family safe.  Tiffany is the reader and code-breaker and her compassionate side leads her to adopt a black panther-like animal. Austin and Mason are typical eleven-year-olds, who are alternately brave, reckless, and scared.  Mason's occasional disobedience and desire for independence will resonate with younger siblings, but Austin's more compliant nature provides a good counter-example.

What I Dislike:  There were a couple jumps in the action.  For example, at one point, one of the Mason is being strangled by treacherous vines, but in the next moment he is free and saving Oliver.  Eastman neglects to tell us how Mason avoided being strangled.

Also, although the book works fairly well as a stand-alone, I would have enjoyed it more had I read the first book (Taken) previously.

Overall Rating:  Very Good

Age Appeal:  8-16

Publisher Info: P and R Publishing Company, 2012; ISBN: 978-1-59638-246-6; Paperback, 399 pages, $12.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $8.99
OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $11.04. 

Special Note:  Brock Eastman is co-author of Focus on the Family's Imagination Station series. Check out CCBR reviews of the Imagination Station books here.

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