Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Starlight Claim

Wynne-Jones, Tim. The Starlight Claim
September 10th 2019 by Candlewick Press
Public library copy

Nate's best friend, Dodge, has died with his father and younger brother in an attempt to deliver a refrigerator to their remote cabin. The bodies of the brother and father were found, but Nate is disturbed by the fact that Dodge is still missing. He is also bothered by the fact that he didn't try harder to stop Dodge from going, especially after the boy asked him to go along because his backwoods skills were much stronger. When Nate's plans to return to his family's own cabin with a friend fall through, he decides to go on his own, hoping to somehow find some clue as to what happened to Dodge. When he gets to the remote location, however, he finds nefarious sorts skulking around the house that his father built. He heads over to Dodge's cabin, and is followed by one of the men, who warns him to stock up with water and firewood for the upcoming storm, and to lock himself in so that the other men don't find him. Of course, Nate doesn't do this, and begins a game of cat and mouse with the men that ends in family secrets being revealed, an unfortunate tragedy, and in Nate exercising his survival abilities and making peace with Dodge's fate.
Strengths: This is a good outdoor adventure book, even though Nate has a comfortable cabin to which to retreat. The gangster types add another level of suspense, and the twist with the family history is interesting. Fans of Hobbs' Never Say Die , Greci's Surviving Bear Island, or Lawrence's The Skeleton Tree will appreciate the icy, backwoods setting and Nate's resourcefulness.
Weaknesses: The story line goes back and forth from the present to Nate's adventures with Dodge in the past, and is a bit disjointed. There are also a LOT of bad decisions made by both boys on many occasions.
What I really think: Nate's father is Burl from The Maestro (1995), which I think was in my library at one point. While The Starlight Claim can be read as a stand alone, the average life expectancy of a library book is 8-10 years, so I wouldn't expect many people to be eagerly awaiting this as a sequel.
Ms. Yingling

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