Review Blog

Mar 05 2013

Missing by Gabrielle Lord

cover image

Conspiracy 365: Black ops. Scholastic, 2013 ISBN 9781742835181.
Having a holographic cover depicting a teen landing a parasail in an electrical storm, this book will appeal to young adolescents from the moment they see it on the shelf. Another quirky element is page numbers which run backwards, giving a tense countdown towards the conclusion .
As book one of the Black ops trilogy, this book tends to assume a lot of prior knowledge from the popular Conspiracy 365 series, in terms of knowing the background and prior exploits of the characters. The first few pages are clumsy, yet readers unfamiliar with the previous works will quickly accept the framework and move with the story which delivers action and adventure in abundance.
Callum Ormond is recruited by Benedict Bellamy, head of security agency SI6 to investigate the disappearance of youths on Shadow Island, a resort set up to give troubled teens a chance to rest and recuperate before re-joining society. Whilst Callum has been charged with discovering the whereabouts of a girl known to SI6, by coincidence, his twin brother Ryan appears to have been taken to the island too.
Callum is parachuted on to the island in secret where he commences hidden surveillance and whilst he is initially puzzled by the peculiar controls and intense security measures applied by those running the 'resort', he gradually unravels the mystery.
The author effectively maintains a sense of tension and excitement as teenagers struggle to outwit those controlling the island. The characters have to evade capture and break into secure zones, however there are no concepts or events which would be inappropriate for a twelve year old to read. Violence does not feature beyond scuffles and restraint, usually in testing and training.
Young adolescents, particularly boys will enjoy this story which emphasises the value of intelligence, technology, physical fitness and good friendships. A strong female character is also central to the narrative.
My only criticism is that the novel concludes abruptly, without any resolution to the story and with the clear implication that readers will have to access the next book in the series which presumably will finish the same way. The current trend in writing an overall series rather than novels within a series probably engages many readers, however I personally find this disappointing and unappealing.
Rob Welsh

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