CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 7 . . . .November 25, 2005
Jane Ray, the 16-year-old hero of Diane Haynes' new novel, Flight or Fight, is one remarkable teenage girl. After saving a scoter duck that has been affected by an oil spill from the waters of Stanley Park, not only does she become a volunteer at the Urban Wildlife Rescue Centre in her suburb home of Cedar's Ridge, but she also becomes a crusader against the evil SeaKing Shipping Pacific.
The shipping company caused 50 tonnes of canola oil to spill into Burrard Inlet –all because a corroded pipeline was not attended to in time. SeaKing, who has contributed to the roughly 1,200 spills that happen each year, refuses to admit negligence, citing a rock scraping the pipe as the reason for the "accident."
Jane, along with her equally crusading friends, Amy and Flory, and with the help of a secret informant at SeaKing, hatches a plan to expose the truth about SeaKing. In true Nancy Drew tradition, the girls narrowly escape death and try to save the world—but in a more realistic fashion. While Jane and her friends seem much older and wiser than the high school seniors that they are (despite the fact that they never seem to actually attend school), they are also sympathetic, likeable characters with whom teen readers will certainly be able to identify. Jane's breakup with brief boyfriend Jake, the school stud who has the audacity to break up with her over email, plunges Jane into the depths of despair, both humanizing her and giving her friends the opportunity to save their kindred spirit.
The book begins with Jane’s training for the Vancouver International Holiday Marathon, an annual Vancouver event. The combined resourcefulness of Jane, her friends and their parents (a mother with media connections, a father with a law firm) comes together in the climax of the story in which the three friends use the marathon as their soapbox to expose SeaKing for its negligence. This scene is one of impeccable timing and creativity as the girls, dressed as birds covered in oil, come into the Plaza of Nationssetting just as the Vancouver radio announcer is listing SeaKing as a sponsor of the race. Equipped with signs listing the animals affected and the costs for rescue and rehabilitation, this scene is one of general mayhem, and it is nothing short of genius on Haynes' behalf.
While Flight or Fight is an adventure story with fine Carl Hiaasen-like eco warrior qualities, it is also informative to the reader, opening one's eyes to the many facets involved in wildlife rehabilitation. The final pages of the book include resources on wildlife rehabilitation centers and associations, as well as quick guide on what to do if you find an injured, orphaned or oiled animal, and how to make your own wildlife rescue kit. This book would be a good addition to any novel study done in high school classes studying the environment.
In writing her first novel for young adults, Diane Haynes has joined the ranks of such talented authors as Melanie Jackson and Linda Bailey in her detailed descriptions of Vancouver geography, a feature which will make the book even more relevant to anyone who has ever lived in, visited, or become chronically depressed by Vancouver and its rain. Her opening description of the ever-present Vancouver "grey" is very well done and is apt for anyone who has spent a grey, winter day on the Stanley Park Seawall. This novel is a great first effort, and teen girls will likely look forward to future titles in Jane Ray's “Wildlife Rescue Series.”
Jen Waters is the Teen Services Librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.