Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Michael Cadnum's Flash

Cadnum, Michael. Flash.
Brothers Bruce and Michael have too much time on their hands, and decide to channel their antisocial rage into plotting a bank robbery. Nina is worried about her father's money problems, but also concerned about her brother, Carraway, who is back from serving in Iraq, where he was badly injured. Legally blind Terrence, Nina's boyfriend, is contemplating surgery that will restore some of his sight, although he has a decent job recording bird sounds for films. Bruce and Michael put their inept plan into action, and we witness to the brothers trying to hide the ink-stained cash that is their only haul from the robbery. Nina has seen them running from the bank with a bag, and Terrence heard the robbery take place, so along with Carraway (who has problems of his own), the robbers, witnesses and eventually, law enforcement officers, all converge with explosive results!

This was a great page-turner with an immensely appealing cover. It can't be classed as a mystery, because we see each step of the events as they occur. It is suspense, in the way that Terri Fields Holdup is. While it's clear that the brothers are going to rob a bank, I wanted to know what horrible thing was going to happen. Combine this with brief but realistic descriptions of Nina's financial worries and excellent details of what life is like serving in the military in Iraq, and this becomes a book that will appeal to a lot of middle school students. In fact, I know the very first student to whom I will recommend this in the fall-- he tends to read only books about war, and this has just enough of that to encourage him to read the book while stretching a bit.

Some of the reviews list this as grades 9 and up, but there is nothing that makes this inappropriate for middle school. The appearance of guns is realistic, but does not encourage having them about. While it is good to see Cadnum pick up contemporary fiction again (Taking It (1995) and Zero at the Bone (1996) are excellent titles), his historical fiction is also top rate, and his Book of the Lion and Ship of Fire have taught many of my boys that history doesn't have to be boring. Always glad to see something new from this author!

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