Monday, June 4, 2018


SCAVENGER HUNT by Meg Buchanan (Junction, 2017)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Train hard. Ride fast. And win! That's what moto trials rider Josh Reeves usually lives for. But lately, even with coaching and a new bike on offer, life keeps getting in the way. When a game of dare gets out of control, Josh can't see a way out without looking weak in front of his mates. But now the cops are getting too close for comfort. To top it all off, he crashes his bike, so it looks like his season is over. Can he find a way to make everything right? Or are the police going to work out who is behind the random weekly thefts?

This is an exciting Kiwi young adult tale, full of action and some danger, with interesting characters who are struggling to find their place as they grow up and their lives are going through plenty of changes. I'm not really the target audience for this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I think it would be ideal for keen adolescent and teen readers looking for interesting and exciting reads.

For some adult readers, the main characters could come off as 'silly kids' early on, but Buchanan does a good job drawing readers into the story, and providing some nice depth and character arcs. The pages fly. You may roll your eyes at the antics Josh and his mates get up to, or the decisions various characters make, but there's a good sense of authenticity throughout. Characters make mistakes and poor choices, but it feels real, not author hand. Buchanan makes you care about the characters.

I liked the inclusion of the moto trials sport, and the way Buchanan took us into that world, providing plenty of detail and education about what goes into it, why people love it, and how it's different to other types of motor racing, without overwhelming the forward motion of the tale. I think she got the balance right, very well done, and that the setting could interest teen and adult readers alike.

While Josh and many of his moto trial mates are male, there are also some interesting female characters, and Buchanan again does well here, being realistic about teenagers without falling into stereotypes. Buchanan sets the hook well early on, and keeps the revs high throughout.

A good read, especially for those that like young adult tales with adventure and intrigue.

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned features writer. He’s interviewed hundreds of crime writers and talked about the genre on national radio, top podcasts, and onstage at books festivals on three continents. He's been a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards, the McIlvanney Prize, and is founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can heckle him on Twitter

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