________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 6 . . . . October 7, 2011


Infiltration. (Orca Soundings).

Sean Rodman.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2011.
130 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55469-985-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55469-986-5 (hc.).

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Chris Laurie.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Kieran just laughed. "The big score. You really did this just for the money? You are just a little criminal, aren't you? What happened to all your ideals, Boy Scout?"

He took two of the pills and stuffed the rest back in his pocket. Then before I could say anything else, he grabbed the rope with two hands and lowered himself through the skylight. I watched the rope shake as he slid jerkily down it. Pretty soon, Kieran had disappeared out of the range of my headlamp and was lost in the darkness.

Now it was back to me. I'd come this far. It seemed stupid to back out now. But Kieran was different tonight. I was into taking chances but being smart about it. Calculating the odds. Kieran was just going for it. Like he didn't care about getting hurt. Didn't care about anything except getting into this building. Maybe that was my problem. Maybe I needed to be a little more like him, a little more radical. Before I could change my mind, I grabbed the rope. No harness, no safety. I put my weight onto the rope and let it start to slide through my gloved hands. I dropped down, and pretty soon I was surrounded by the dark space.

"Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints" is Taylor Bexhill's motto. Better known as Bex, the 17-year-old, his girlfriend Asha, and best friend Jake are students by day and urban explorers by night. For those who aren't familiar with the term, urban exploration is the entering and investigating of restricted urban areas, such as abandoned buildings, tunnels and construction sites. The three are looking forward to summer vacation, but, when Asha shares the news with Bex that she has been offered Head Counsellor position at a remote summer camp, he is deeply shaken He had envisioned them both sharing their last summer before college together. But the money Asha will earn will allow her to enter a college program she couldn't otherwise afford. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival in class of a transfer student, Kieran. Rumours circulate about Kieran's dark past, but the two boys quickly hit it off when they discover their mutual interest in urban exploration.

      Following a hair-raising night-time scaling of the old Harborhead Bridge sans safety gear, Kieran makes Bex a tantalising offer. His father works in a military supply lab that stores electronic equipment that the two could easily steal and resell at a substantial profit. Bex is torn. He knows it would be wrong, but this would also solve Asha's money problems and allow them to spend the summer together. He agrees. But Bex has noticed increasingly disturbing behaviours in Kieran. Should he follow through with the plan?

      Rodman's fast paced and suspenseful new novel contains all the thrilling action scenes and believable characters and dialogue that we have come to expect from the "Orca Soundings" series. Bex and his friends are on the verge of adulthood. The decisions they make at this point in their lives will greatly affect the paths their lives will follow. Ultimately, Bex makes his choice and must accept responsibility for what results. The depth and complexity of the two main characters, along with the ambiguity of the story's conclusion, elevates this novel above many others in its genre. Bex is a likeable but flawed character, a situation which enables readers to identify with the decisions he makes and to care about what will happen to him following the book's conclusion. Secondary characters, Ash and Jake, are also well-written as is that of Kieran's father, but primarily readers are rooting for Bex and intrigued by the character of Kieran. Kieran comes from a tragically fractured family and blames his father for it. His cries for attention have caused him to be shuffled from school to school, and the cumulative tragedies in his life are what drive this novel to an unexpected conclusion. Infiltration is Sean Rodman's first novel for young adults and another excellent addition to the "Orca Soundings" series.

Highly Recommended.

Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at Winnipeg Public Library.

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

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