________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005


Adrenalin Ride. (Take It to the Extreme).

Pam Withers.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books, 2004.
191 pp, pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55285-604-6.

Subject Headings:
Adventure stories.
Wilderness survival - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** /4


Sweat trickled from Jake Evans's brow inside his full-face helmet as he clattered down a ladder bridge, leaned into a turn, and prepared to launch from the top of the five-foot drop ahead of him. It dribbled down the back of his neck and crept into dark, smelly places under his body armor as he gripped his handlebars tighter and caught some air on the steep mountain face. Then, with the fullest concentration he'd ever mustered in all of his fifteen years, he pulled up on his handlebars and willed his rear tire to hit the transition - the dusty run-out - just so. In mountain-biking videos, this was the moment where riders lifted their feet off the pedals and kicked their heels before remounting and touching earth with an exuberant victory smile.


In this third book in the "Take it to the Extreme" series, adventure-seekers Jake Evans and Peter Montpetit, both 15, are hired to cut a mountain-bike path through Vancouver's Cathedral Provincial Park. In exchange for 10 days of hard labour, Ron Gabanna (a character from the opening novel, Raging River) promises them a good salary and free bikes. When Peter discovers that Ron doesn't have a licence to build a path, he starts to question his boss's intentions. Suspicions mount when Ron confesses that he does not own a bike tour company and that they are actually working for Hank, "an old high school friend," and Laszlo, "a nasty piece of work." The teens not only uncover a drug smuggling operation, but they also survive a bike crash and escape from a raging forest fire.

     As the series progresses, we see more dimensions to the main characters. Jake struggles with coming to terms with his father abandoning the family. Since moving to Seattle, Peter has fallen in with a group who shoplift for sport. Jake and Peter's relationship with each other is also tested.

     Authentic details are another feature of this series. Bike enthusiasts will enjoy reading about such aerial stunts as the "suicide one-hander" and "Superman." The author's 16-year-old son, Jeremy Withers, is a downhill-mountain biker and collaborated on the novel. The information presented about "smoke jumpers" (firefighters who parachute into forest fires) is well researched. Readers will learn how to avoid a cougar attack ("Make eye contact, make yourself look tall"), why 10 a.m. is the time of most forest fires ("that's when humidity drops, temperatures rise, and winds pick up all at the same time"), and how to anaesthetize a butterfly (pinch the butterfly's thorax to stun it so it doesn't damage its wings).

     With its high-interest topics and fast-paced plot, this novel will appeal to sports fans, as well as reluctant teen readers.


Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

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

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