Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Smokescreen by Nancy Hartry

Kerry has lived her entire life in a city, and is completely unprepared for her summer job deep in the bush in northwestern Ontario. Her coworker Yvette seems to be everything that she is not: worldly, outgoing, poised, and confident. They are set to spend a summer hunting for cottage sites when they are suddenly called up to provide support for nearby firefighting efforts. Neither of them is prepared for a sequence of events that points at Yvette as the arsonist responsible for the fire and which may cost both of them their lives.

Smokescreen is a short, fast-paced read that should have a strong appeal to young adults. There is plenty of action to drive the story forward, although there are spots that drag due to overly detailed descriptions. The story is told from Kerry's point of view, and throughout she is an easily likeable and relatable character. Yvette is less consistantly likeable, but this is generally colored by Kerry's current opinion of her.

The main issue I have with the book is the character development. Both girls see considerable change in their actions and attitudes through the story. While this is to be expected, it happens in sudden spurts rather than a more gradual change that might be expected. There is also some inconsistancy in their development. Kerry starts off very nervous about a job for which she knows she is entirely unprepared, but within a few chapters is much more at ease, even after being thrown into an even more stressful situation. As the story progresses, she wavers back and forth between the two extremes rather than a steady growth from one to the other. Yvette's behavior is even less consistent at times, often without enough information given to understand her sudden changes.

The book is written by a Canadian and published in Canada, so there are a few spots where the language seems just a little off to a U.S. native like myself. However, they are very minor and far between, and should not cause any problems for YA readers.

Overall, Smokescreen has a very strong storyline with a satisfying ending (despite a bit of info dump following the climax), but I can only give it four out of five stars.

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