________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 8 . . . . December 9, 2005


Surf Zone. (Take It to the Xtreme).

Pam Withers.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap, 2005.
200 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55285-718-2.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Heidi Dolamore.

**½ /4


Peter turned his board toward the crescent beach and waited impatiently. He could feel his heart pumping as hard as the waves hitting the shore. The open-ocean swells that they’d paddled through were standing up to their full height as they charged toward the sand. He guessed they were reaching thirty feet or more as they crested and bombed onto the beach. He’d never surfed three-story waves, had no idea if he could pull this off. The entire ocean around him seemed to be mental. He had no business being here. He must be cracked to think he’d make it in without injury. But he’d also never felt so determined to ride a wave in clean...As the waves beneath him rose and fell, he felt terrified, excited, and desperate to ride, all in one...As his arms worked the water, the mini-tsunami picked him up and launched him forward with an acceleration surely no one but astronauts had ever felt.

Jake and Peter have forged a strong friendship after surviving a series of close calls in previous “Take It to the Xtreme” books. In Surf Zone, the athletic duo continue their adventures as junior guides on a kayak tour off the coast of Vancouver Island. The narrative alternates chapter by chapter between Jake’s and Peter’s points of view, revealing an underlying rivalry between the two friends. Soon, Jake and Peter are competing for more than the biggest waves when they find themselves paired with a gorgeous 15-year-old French girl on a scuba diving expedition. After exploring an underwater cave, the divers run out of oxygen and must fight for survival on a deserted island.

     Surfing, kayaking, and scuba diving are described in rich detail. Comprised mainly of action sequences, Surf Zone will appeal to sports and adventure fans. The characterization is superficial, but the plot is strong enough to carry the reader’s interest. It is not necessary to read the entire “Take It to the Xtreme” series to enjoy Surf Zone. The three teens learn about self-reliance as they negotiate several narrow escapes involving a giant octopus, thieves and a deadly storm. Facts about wilderness survival and local wildlife appear frequently throughout the story.


Heidi Dolamore is a candidate for Master of Library and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia.

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

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