________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 5. . . .September 30, 2011


Redline. (Orca Soundings).

Alex Van Tol.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
125 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-893-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-894-3 (hc.).

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Tara Stieglitz.

***1/2 /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



My headlights don't pick up where the pavement ends and where the gravel starts.

I feel my back end start to slide, and I jump off the gas. My rear whips from side to side, spraying thick gravel from under the tires. Dark bushes blur past. I don't remember how to correct a gravel slide.

Terrified I tap my brakes.



Lately, all Jenessa wants to do is drive. Spending her nights speeding down the highway helps her forget the guilt and anger she feels over the recent death of her best friend who died in a snowboarding accident while Jenessa watched. Jenessa's love of fast cars gets her involved in the local street racing scene where her guilt over her friend's death leads her into increasingly risky behaviour. Jenessa also becomes involved with Cody, the leader of the street racers, whom she finds both dangerous and exciting. Soon, Jenessa is involved in a pattern of increasingly self-destructive behaviour, and the only way for her to escape is to recognize her own self-worth and find the inner strength to defy Cody.

      Redline is an engaging and exciting read. Jenessa is a realistic and strong character who is likable, despite the poor decisions she makes in the novel. Jenessa's guilt and pain over her friend's death and the self-destructive way she deals with it do not seem contrived, and, while some of the other characters, particularly Cody, are more like stock stereotypes, Jenessa is well characterized. The novel is written from Jenessa's perspective, helping to give her character depth and engaging the reader in the story. Redline is very well written, and, despite the low reading level, the writing does not feel stilted or simple; rather, the short sentences make the books feel punchy and in tune with its fast-paced content.

      Redline is a thrilling contemporary novel that deals with serious issues of death and mourning and is an excellent choice for teen readers. The novel is action-packed and suspenseful, making it a quick and engaging read. Since the language is simple, and the reading level is low, Redline is a good choice for teens who read below grade level or for those who are learning English as a second language. Redline is a recommended purchase for public and school libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Tara Stieglitz is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.

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

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