Monday, May 08, 2017

MMGM- Best binge read of the summer!

I normally don't review books that are only published in paperback, since paperbacks last about a month in my library. I'll make an exception for this British import. The four paperbacks are all coming out just in time for summer. If you know a tween boy, just buy the whole series and he'll be set for long car trips or lazy hours on the front porch. So good! At least Follett has these available in a prebind. Absolute must read for fans of British spy stories by great authors like Gilmore, Higgins, Muchamore, Horowitz and McNab.

Mr. Bradford very nicely did this interview with me for Young Adult Books Central.

Bradford, Chris. Recruit (Bodyguard #1)
May 9th 2017 by Philomel Books
ARC provided by Blueslip Media

Connor Reeves has just won a major kick boxing tournament and is on his way home when he tries to save a boy from being mugged. After a fight, the boy disappears and Connor ends up being taken to a police station, where the officers inform him that he passed "the test" and they want to recruit him to be a Guardian. These are bodyguards who are young teens who can go undetected in many situations. Since Connor's father died in the war and both his mother and grandmother are ailing, he takes the group up on their offer of a cover story of a scholarship to a private school and care for his relatives. He's whisked off for training, meets the other Guardians (including Charley, who oversees his unit), and is soon taken to Washington, D.C. on a detail to guard Alicia Mendez, the president's daughter! Alicia has a habit of running off and eluding the secret service, so it's important that Connor befriend her. He does, and manages to save her from an attack. However, book one ends in an uncertain way and MUST BE FOLLOWED IMMEDIATELY BY...


Bradford, Chris. Recruit (Bodyguard #1)
May 9th 2017 by Philomel Books
ARC provided by Blueslip Media

The attack is just the beginning. After the best recap in a middle grade book that I have ever seen, we are plunged back into the story. Alicia is glad that Connor was with her, but still doesn't know the whole story. After he accompanies her to a school dance and gets involved with a prank instigated by Ethan, who's interested in Alicia himself, Connor's cover is blown with Alicia and she's angry. She runs off just as Connor is getting ready to leave the White House... and D.C. is being bombed. This, of course, is just a smoke screen for the terrorist attack that we have seen coming all through the first book, with the Yemeni Crescent Rising group (represented by Malik) bound and determined to kidnap Alicia. Even though his technology has been compromised, Connor manages to find Alicia, but the two are kidnapped and held for ransom. Not knowing where they are or what might happen to them, Connor uses his bodyguard skills to try to escape. Can he get them out? And what will happen with the terrorists if he does?
Strengths: The specifics of body guarding are absolutely exquisite. Mr. Bradford actually trained to become a licensed bodyguard in order to research these books. That is absolutely amazing and adds incredibly vivid details to the story. I loved how Connor's family was packed away in a convincing fashion and he's whisked off for training... and then whisked off yet again. The connection between his father and the president is touching, and his budding relationship with Alicia charming. Even the private school and Alicia's friends add a realistic dimension. I really cannot say how much I adored these.
Weaknesses: I would have liked to see a little more character growth from Connor, but that is hard to achieve when people keep shooting at you! Also, I was a bit uneasy with the terrorists being Arabic, especially given the connection to one of Alicia's friends. There is a Guardian with an Arabic name, and that made me feel a little better. I know that there are certainly Arabic terrorists, but I worry that this will make some students feel that their culture is being unfairly profiled, and wish that there had been fewer specifics about the terrorists.
What I really think: I NEED THESE RIGHT NOW!!!!! May I buy two sets? I really need to!

Bodyguard: Hijack by [Bradford, Chris]Bradford, Chris. Hijack
May 9th 2017 by Philomel Books
Copy provided by publisher, thankfully!

Since Connor was so successful in his first mission, he is picked to go on another one where his Principals will be the twin daughters of a very rich Australian publisher. Since he had a romantic complication with the president's daughter, another bodyguard, Ling, is assigned to the detail as well. One daughter, Emily, was kidnapped previously and had spent some time in captivity. She is understandably angry about many things,  while Chloe is somewhat more friendly and amenable to being watched. Both girls are unconcerned for their own safety, and frequently ask Connor and Ling to act more as servants than bodyguards. After the girls are mugged, presumably for their designer bags, Connor is sure that there is more danger around than previously thought. He remains on high alert, which helps when Emily falls asleep on a raft and floats out to see. Ling is fortunately not hurt when a jet ski blows up, but once the two hear about pirates, they know that being in the Seychelles is going to be no vacation. Unfortunately, the yacht is attacked by Somalian pirates, and held for...

31618486Bradford, Chris. Ransom
May 9th 2017 by Philomel Books
Copy provided by publisher, thankfully!

Connor has been trained that the best way to deal with pirates in to not let them board the craft. Unfortunately, Cali, a Somalian boy who speaks limited English and claims that his father was a teacher, is aboard the yacht. He also claims he is not a pirate. The twins want to take pity on him, but Connor suspects that Cali has alerted the pirates. We know, from information in the previous book, why the pirates have targeted the vessel, and also know that they don't want to give up until they accomplish their goal. After a brutal shooting of the security officer, the twins, captain and Ling manage to make it into the safe room. Unfortunately, this is blow torched open by the pirates, and there is no choice but to deal with them. Connor does his best to call for help and to do everything he can to save the group, but there is a hidden enemy in their midst. 
Strengths: There are so many good details about what it takes to guard someone, and lots of pulse pounding moments of danger. The exotic location doesn't hurt. This is definitely a series that young readers will devour!
Weaknesses: Paperback only, and while Somali pirates are certainly a very real thing, I wonder how some of my students of Somali descent will feel about their inclusion. I also am very intrigued by Connor's mother and grandmother; I know the target demographic wouldn't be, but I'd love to see him go home more!
What I really think: I'm so glad that the publisher sent me the next two volumes! I would have preferred that the British versions had been retained, with 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 being just two volumes, but they would make very long books. In Hijack and Ransom, the twins were Ella and Lily. Wonder why the names were changed. At any rate, top notch action fiction!

We have to wait until October 2017 for Ambush and Survival!


It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and  #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday. 
Ms. Yingling

8 comments:

  1. They all do sound just right for a reader who loves intrigue, and it is great that the author has authentic facts about how body guarding really works. I'll pass these on to former colleagues, Karen. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Thanks for these reviews. I'm passing on word to the TL who took my place.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We've only recently even starting cataloguing paperbacks in our library, since they traditionally had such a short life span that it wasn't even worth it...It's frustrating when books only come out in paperback, but you're right, for some series it's just worth it, you have to have them in your collection, no matter what format they're in!

    ReplyDelete
  4. These are on my short stack of candidates for an upcoming reading weekend (sadly not the #48HBC due to family constraints, but a different weekend). I'm glad you enjoyed them! That keeps them on my list.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the heads-up on these. I've been looking for just this type of series to recommend to a few young readers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. These sound great! I've just emailed She Who Orders Books to see if we'll get these for our system. We've ordered more than one book on your suggestion!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for this series review. It sounds fresh and new and high interest. I already have a few customers who may enjoy them.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Loved how you focused on just one series in this review - we will need to do a reading theme just for series alone at one point. There is just something about them.

    ReplyDelete