Thursday, July 10, 2014

Books for Reluctant Readers: Chat Room; Reckless

Linda is shy and avoids getting involved at school. But when her high school sets up online chat rooms she can't resist the urge to visit them. Fuelled by interest in a student with the nickname Cyrano, Linda participates in online conversations using the nickname Roxane and gains a reputation as the queen of one-liners. Soon Linda starts receiving gifts from a secret admirer who signs his gifts, "C." She is certain that her life has taken a turn for the better until "C" reveals his true identity.

Delving into the online world of chat rooms, this novel touches on the benefits and dangers of internet anonymity and the consequences of taking a 'safe' online relationship into the real life. There is still a lot of room  in the Orca series to take this theme further. Linda displays the lure of being able to speak to others, free of your public identity. The resulting confidence to express oneself is contrasted against the threat of no really knowing whom you are speaking to.  That threat was not portrayed as well as it could have been. The aggressiveness and unrealistic tunnel vision demonstrated by Linda's friend when giving her warnings had a minimizing effect. The ending also glossed over the dangers of meeting people from a chat room in person.


Book Cover
Josh knows he's riding recklessly when he knocks down the old man he suspects is the hermit of Loggerman Creek. But he is shocked when the hermit walks into the forest with his bike after the accident. Being without his beloved bike for a week motivates Josh to hike into the woods and confront the crazy old man. The hermit, Jonathan, has fixed Josh's bike, and Josh learns that he has more in common with the old man than he ever imagined. When Jonathan needs help, Josh has to respect the old man's choices in order to save his life.

The characters of Josh and Jonathan were well written, evoking understanding and empathy that connected  their different story lines.  The inclusion of PSTD and acknowledgement of the effects of war on an individual was poignant and thoughtfully handled.  This is not a topic often see in young adult fiction. Full of action and angst, Reckless is an adventurous ride into growing up.

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