CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 11. . . .November 13, 2009
Jacked. (Orca Soundings).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2009.
125 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-184-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-185-2 (hc.).
Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.
Review by Pam Klassen-Dueck.
I pull out of the parking lot and wait for a break in the traffic before turning onto the street. I''m looking left, when suddenly I hear a car door open. It's a long stupid second before I realize that it's one of my car doors. The passenger door, to be exact. Confused, I turn to look. There's a masked man in the passenger seat, pointing a gun at me.
A masked man.
With a gun.
In my car.
Zane thinks today's gonna be just another day. He shows up for work at the gas station, tries (as usual) to make conversation with colossally odd co-worker Dorkus Roboticus, and skips out for just five minutes to pick up a breakfast burrito (and, of course, to scope out the hot girl who makes them). But, on the way to the restaurant, he is carjacked by a masked gunman. The carjacker isn't after money. He's not after the car. He doesn't want to murder Zane. What does this guy want from him?
Jacked is a new hi-lo offering by Carrie Mac, an award-winning author whose previous young adult books include The Beckoners and The Droughtlanders trilogy.
Zane, the main character, sounds like a classic teenaged guy: interested in food, sex, and cars (not necessarily in that order). He has a good sense of humour; for instance, I laughed aloud when he –– unable to shut his mouth at the carjacker's orders –– keeps issuing "verbal diarrhea" to fill the silence. I was also amused by Zane's sudden change of heart about his carjacker: he decides that the formerly scary guy is "totally and completely harmless" when he actually washes his hands (which Zane claims that guys don't ever do) after using the urinal at a gas station.
The pace of Jacked is quick, as befits a hi-lo pick, and the plot, featuring a "bizarro field trip" is fairly straightforward. The story is pulled along partly by the mystery of how the masked carjacker, nicknamed 'Bud,' seems to know who Zane is, though Zane hasn't a clue about who he is. Then, when Zane finds out that he has been kidnapped by "geek-loser extraordinaire" Carlyle Dennison, and that he doesn't have to worry, the story is carried via a domestic drama: Carlyle's girlfriend, Sarita, is at death's door after a tragic car accident, and her parents won't allow him to see her because they don't want their daughter to date "a white guy who isn't Iranian or Muslim." The story's tension continues to build when Carlyle threatens to pull his mad-gunman act to get past the hospital staff and Sarita's family to see his dying girlfriend.
I did wish that the ending weren't quite as abrupt. In particular, I had trouble believing that Sarita's parents would so quickly allow Carlyle to visit their daughter—when they had been so completely opposed to it—and so a few more pages spent on that sensitive issue would have been illuminating.
Overall, Jacked is a good pick for reluctant readers, especially teenaged boys who want a fast-moving story.
Pam Klassen-Dueck teaches high school English in Altona, MB, and is a graduate student in the M.Ed. program at Brock University.
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