Brennan, Herbie. The Secret Prophecy.
30 October 2012, Balzer and Bray
Edward Michael's (Em) father has died, which is bad enough, but shortly after the funeral his study is ransacked, and his mother is committed to a mental institution while he is off with his father's best friend, Tom, and his daughter Charlotte at a symposium. He is also being followed by a man with a gun, and thinks it has something to do with his father's interest in the prophecies of Nostradamus. When it looks like people are coming after him, Em runs off and ends up seeking refuge at a homeless shelter, where he is befriended by a man named Victor. Victor claims to be from Section 7, a secret (British) government agency that has been trying to thwart the evil Knights of Themis, who are trying to create a new world order and kill off vast swaths of the population in order to make the world a better place. The first way they will do this involves a vaccination for the Death Flu that is panicking Britain, and Em and Victor take off to find the factory where this is being manufactured. However, they soon find out interesting information about Em's father. Is Section 7 the good guys? Are the Knights of Themis bad? Soon, Em doesn't know what to think and must work quickly to find out what's going on and to save himself.
Strengths: Don't want to ruin the twists in this-- I probably should have seen some of them coming, but I still liked the direction it took. Lots of action and adventure, as well as Em and Charlotte getting to run around England and France on their own. Interesting sort of futuristic/dystopia bit with the group trying to overthrow society, claiming that the Euro is the beginning of this world government plot. I'm kind of curious about Brennan's politics now! Oddly, the thing that really drew me into this book was the description of how Em reacted to his father's funeral. It made him a sympathetic character, and I think a lot of younger readers will have no experiences with funerals and will find this macabrely fascinating.
Weaknesses: I am still not sure which side is good and which side is evil. Irish books (think Artemis Fowl) seem to like this sort of moral ambiguity. They also seem to think that girls can only be outspoken and active if they are American. This seems like it will be a series, and I think it will be a good addition to my collection of action/adventure/modern fantasy books.