The rig by Joe Ducie
Hot Key Books, 2013. ISBN 978147140219.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Science fiction. Dystopian. Thriller. Reluctant readers. Guardian/HotKey Books Young Writers Prize 2012. Will Drake is the ultimate Houdini. He has been able to escape from every high-security prison that he has been detained in, until he is sent to The Rig, a specialist juvenile detention centre in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. As he scopes out the prison, trying to work out how he can escape, he begins to realise that things are not what they seem to be. Some of the detainees seem to have weird powers and disappear off to 'Advanced' classes.
This is a fast paced thriller that locks you into reading right from the first page. As the story progress the reader comes to understand Will and the blind determination that drives him to escape his prison. He is cool, strong and self-sufficient but finds that he needs Tristan, his nerdy cell mate and Irene, a feisty girl, to join with him in his exploration of The Rig. Filled with breath-taking moments as the trio creep through tunnels and scale down elevator holes, the action is non-stop and kept me reading this story in one sitting. Even the games the prisoners play are full of thrills. Rig ball is one scary game. The scenes are easy to imagine and the book would make a great TV series or movie.
The evil Warden, the guard Brand and the bully Gray and his cronies provide a satisfying contrast to Will, Tristan and Irene as they go about their deadly business with no conscience at all. The difference between their lack of morality and that of big business and the reason that Will has been sent to prison is thought provoking. Ducie subtly questions the ethics of imprisoning violent young offenders with teens on lesser charges.
Both boys and girls will enjoy this action packed book and it should appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys. Although the novel reads as a stand-alone there is scope for a sequel, so it will be interesting to see what happens next.