Jolt by Bernard Beckett

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Text, 2009. ISBN 9761921520211
(Age 14+) Recommended. An exciting thriller from an award winning New Zealand author, the action and excitement in Jolt keeps the reader on edge. 16 year old Marko wakes up in a psychiatric ward. Convinced that the doctor is trying to kill him, he decides to get his own revenge. When he stops taking the pills that he prescribed, he begins to remember the horror of the preceding days. He had been on an outdoor education trip, trying to go from coast to coast in less than six days when his teacher was threatened by a group of men in the bush. Unable to help her, he flees the scene. Then an earthquake struck and he and his companions had to fight for their lives. In the hospital, he is uncertain about who he can trust and doesn't know whether the others from the excursion are alive.
The story is told in alternative chapters. Beckett builds up the horror of the happenings in the bush in one chapter and then with the use of Italics in the following chapter, relates the mental trauma that Marko is going through in the form of a journal. The tension of the story kept me reading and I was never sure just what Marko would do and whether he would survive.
Although Jolt was first released in 2001, it still really holds its own as a gripping suspense story that has appeal for boys. Teacher's notes are available.
Pat Pledger