Review Blog

Apr 19 2010

Full tilt by Neal Shusterman

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Simon and Shuster, 2009. ISBN 9781416997481.
(Age 13+) Recommended. If you are after a roller coaster of a read then go no further than Full tilt. Blake is a 16-year-old boy, who always does the right thing. He is steady and reliable; all set to go off to college on a scholarship. Quinn, his younger brother, is the opposite. He takes dangerous risks and Blake is forever getting him out of trouble. During a visit to a carnival with his brother and friends Maggie and Russ, Blake meets a beautiful girl Cassandra who invites him to an amusement park, a private one that can only be entered with an invitation. Blake is too responsible to take up that offer but later that night Quinn is found in a coma and Blake realises that his wild brother has used his invitation and something terrible has happened to him. Driving full tilt to the park with Maggie and Russ, Blake is forced to ride seven rides before dawn in order to save his brother's soul. Each of the rides must be finished, but they are not the usual carnival rides - each one makes the rider examine their greatest fears or faults. If you can't finish the ride then you become part of the park!
This is a fast paced thriller with Blake facing his worst fears when the animals on a carousel stampede, bumper cars go berserk demolishing everything around them and a hall of mirrors turns people into monsters. Finally he must face his greatest fear - why was he the only survivor of the bus crash when he was a child? Could he have saved the other children on the bus? Cassandra keeps appearing to challenge and dare him and he must keep his wits about him. The suspense is chilling as Blake faces danger after danger and Maggie and Russ also face their fears. Although the plot is action packed, ultimately it is a coming of age story where all the characters learn things about themselves.
Fult tilt is a compelling fantasy thriller that will enthral readers who like computer games and the excitement of amusement parks. The originality of the story and the drama of the rides certainly kept me compelled to read quickly to the end.
Pat Pledger

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