________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 17. . . .January 3, 2014


Final Crossing. (Orca Soundings).

Sean Rodman.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2014.
107 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-0552-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-0558-3 (hc.) ISBN 978-1-4598-0553-8 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-0554-5 (epub).

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Beth Maddigan.

*** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I rub my face, thinking it through. The real problem, when you get right down to it , is money. Even if we sleep in the truck, we’ll need some money for food and gas…

“We do this, it’s by my rules,” I say, crossing my arms. “Take it or leave it.”

Big O heaves a sigh, like this is killing him. “Fine, whatever. What are the rules?”

“First, we’re going to take cash only. We look for jackets, purses, whatever. We don’t take anything we have to sell.”

Big O nods reasonably.

“Second, I figure we need about a hundred bucks to get us to Uncle Steve’s. So once we get that much, we stop.”


Will and his older brother, Big O, have stolen before, but this time they are doing it out of necessity since their father is in jail and their nearest relative is a ferry ride away in Seattle. Petty theft turns out to be the least of their problems when they stumble on a far more serious crime and have to make some tough choices.

     Sean Rodman has crafted another urban action adventure novel for the “Orca Soundings” series. Final Crossing is entertaining and readable. With economical, vibrant language, Rodman stays true to the series’ foundations by providing a well-crafted story that is captivating, but easy to digest.

     The action takes place during a ferry ride to Seattle. The descriptions of the bowels of the ferry as the brothers rifle through cars, and later as they are running from a much more menacing criminal, are authentic, descriptive without being excessive. The setting is what helps the somewhat stylized series of action adventure sequences to become heart-pounding episodes punctuated by the plight of two brothers trying to make a fresh start in their lives. The plot, like most in this series, is deliberately linear. However, the heightened excitement of the ocean, coupled with the enclosed nature of the ferry, make this an excellent vehicle for an action-packed adventure. To keep the perspective simple, Rodman provides readers with a much thinner plot for the kidnapped victim, Marissa, and her captor, Mr. Blank. This limited background occasionally causes the plot to fall into a clichéd version of the one-hour crime drama on prime time television. But the strength of the writing and the perspective generally keep the novel on a strong footing.

     One of the strongest elements of this novel is the development of the brothers as genuine, likeable characters with major life issues that they aren’t handling quite as well as they might like. Subtle development, such as Rodman’s description of Big O’s love of music and appreciation for a Muddy Waters CD he finds in a car, is endearing. It also contrasts well with the career criminal, Mr. Blank’s, collection of self-help CDs. Since Final Crossing is written in the first person, the reader’s perspective is through Will’s eyes, and here Rodman develops an intelligent, well-meaning young man. Loyal and good-natured, Will has clear boundaries on right and wrong. His boundaries might be skewed from the mainstream, but they are sound in their own right and allow readers to root for Will and hope for a good outcome for both brothers.

     Final Crossing will appear to many readers, including young men who enjoy action and adventure and teenage girls who have a soft spot for boys with hard-luck stories. Cross gender appeal, coupled with an efficient, but memorable storytelling style make this one of Rodman’s stronger novels.


Beth Maddigan is Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Education Librarian.

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

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