CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 1. . . .September 7, 2012
Lost Cause. (Seven The Series).
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2012.
211 pp., trade pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.). For pricing information about digital options, including multi-user ebook subscriptions, email email@example.com
ISBN 978-1-5546-9944-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-5546-9945-2 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-5546-9946-9 (epub).
Seven (the series) Bundle. ISBN 978-1-4598-0270-4. $59.95.
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Amber Allen.
Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.
"I don't know what's in that book from the suitcase," she continued, "but I know from Maria that it is from a very brutal and tragic time. I brought you here to show you that because I want you to be certain before we begin that you are prepared to go wherever the book might lead you."
"I am," I said, although I wasn't certain. I had assumed that the quest Grandfather had sent me on was a mystery adventure. I would find out things from the clues I had been given and it would all be fun. Laia seemed to be presenting a much darker side to what I was undertaking. I suppose I should have taken what she said more seriously, but I couldn't stop one word racing excitedly around my brain. Laia had said she was telling me this before "we" began. The prospect of spending the next two weeks in the company of this incredible girl swamped any worries she was trying to create.
Seventeen-year-old Steve has all but given up on any hope of going to Europe for the summer. His savings are minimal, his mother doesn't want to let him go, and his twin brother is always making Steve look like the immature one. When his grandfather passes away, Steve gets the surprise of a lifetime in the will. His grandfather has left seven tasks for his seven grandsons, and Steve finds himself with a return ticket to Spain and a mystery to solve. He meets Laia, a beautiful, articulate girl at the address given to him by his grandfather, and together they embark upon an historical adventure through the Spain of today and the tumultuous Spain of the Spanish Civil War.
Steve's first person accounts of his experiences are punctuated by his grandfather's journal entries from 1938. The descriptions of the war—and the emotional reactions of Steve and his grandfather at two different points in history—are rich and poignant. The book feels a little rushed at times, and the ending doesn't quite feel polished, but the action and adventure well make up for these small missed opportunities to develop. Steve is a relatable teenager, with an honest voice and realistic reactions to his situation. We know less about Laia since we cannot follow her thoughts, but she is endearing and strong. Some of the most compelling parts are the grandfather's journal entries which give amazing insights into the strategy and struggle of war. These, paired with the stories of the current day Spanish people, paint a complete picture of the war and its enduring effects.
Lost Cause is one of seven titles in a series set to be released simultaneously. The idea behind the series, itself, is equally as interesting as the plots of the individual books: seven different authors writing seven different adventure stories all following the same instigator-the death of a grandfather who led a very interesting life. Each book can be read separately without missing out on anything, and Lost Cause is very strong as a standalone title with a few nods towards Steve's twin brother's story leaving the reader geared up to read on.
Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, who fills every crack of her spare time with children's literature.
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