CM . . .
. Volume XVIII Number 25. . . .March 2, 2012
Riot Act. (Orca Soundings).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
118 pp., pbk. & hc., hardcover, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0139-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0140-0.
Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.
Review by Rob Bittner.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
Guys swarm the cop car. A bottle hits the windshield and shatters a round white target in the safety glass. A group of guys rips a newspaper box from the sidewalk and hurls it through the windshield. Pebbles of glass spray our feet. People hold their phones over the crowd to take pictures. Someone screams, and I turn to see what looks like a bottle flying into the cop car. There's a trail of smoke, and then a weird pause, like the torch is taking a breath. Then the car bursts into flames.
Seventeen-year-old Daniel and his friend Nick go to downtown Vancouver to watch the final playoff game of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, and they end up caught in the midst of chaos in a post-game riot. Nick gets drunk and starts posing for photos in front of flipped cars while Daniel ends up trying not to lose Nick, but adds fuel to some literal fires just for kicks. When the two boys end up trapped in a pizza shop, Daniel tries to rescue a young girl whose father owns the shop. But is his act of heroism enough to forgive his contribution to the chaos?
Diane Tullson skillfully navigates themes of forgiveness, mob mentality, and redemption, in this short but poignant addition to the "Orca Soundings" book series. Riot Act is the story of young people caught up in events beyond their control, but who must take responsibility both for what they did—no matter how small in relation to the misdeeds of others—and what they did not do. The events are told realistically, mirroring the actual events of the Vancouver post-game riots in 2011, with text even describing images in newspapers and actual recorded events.
The characters in Tullson's book are solid, for the most part, though the resolution at the end of the novel does seem a little bit too simplistic considering what each of the boys has been through. Also, since the book is so short, there is a feeling as though some parts of the story are missing between the end of the riots and when the boys find themselves at home. Riot Act, overall, is quite a fast-paced, plausible, and satisfying read that teens will likely enjoy and learn from. Without being didactic, Tullson teaches some valuable lessons through Nick and Daniel.
Rob Bittner is a graduate of the MA in Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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