The Medusa Project: Hunted by Sophie McKenzie

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The Medusa Project: Hunted by Sophie McKenzie

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: The focus in this series about a team of teenagers with psychic powers shifts to Dylan, the daughter of the scientist who created the Medusa gene. She finds herself struggling to cope with revelations about her father's death, and with a mysterious boy who knows more about her family than she does.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847385284

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Many teens (and older people, too!) wish they had a super-power or two: life would surely be easier if you could read other people's minds or move objects without touching them. But if this fascinating series about a team of crime-fighting teenagers shows us one clear thing, it is that psychic powers can bring as many problems as solutions. Dylan, the central character in this particular volume, is an angry, bad-tempered girl whose bristly exterior echoes her gift of protection her from physical harm. She is not well-liked by the other three, and this becomes a real problem when she finds herself having to deal not only with terrible revelations about her father, but with the appearance in her life of a mysterious boy, Harry. Why does he know so much about her? And can she trust him? Lonely, vulnerable Dylan is in the ideal position to make poor judgements and get herself into serious trouble.

There are two main themes in this gripping series. Firstly, we see how the four teens learn to cope with and use their new powers, including finding ways to prevent the bad guys from using them for evil. Secondly, we look at how they relate to each other. This is a far more subtle and detailed aspect of the books. The team dynamics develop over the course of the series, and we are shown all the challenges of forming an effective crime-fighting force for four people who have very little in common apart from an accident of birth. Add to this the usual torrent of hormones which comes with adolescence, bringing strong feelings of jealousy, dislike and physical attraction, and you have a picture of four utterly real young people whose story seems credible despite the extraordinary lives they lead.

We are left in no doubt in this series that the risks Dylan, Ketty, Nico and Ed run are serious: for example, there are several mentions in this book about an important character from the previous book (The Rescue) who was murdered despite the best efforts of the team. And danger comes thick and fast here too: their enemies are violent and ruthless, ready to kill anyone who gets in their way. Dylan and co decided, earlier in the series, that although they would continue to have a government 'handler', Geri Paterson, they would choose their own missions in future, because they felt they were being exploited and manipulated. In Hunted we see the team use their extraordinary skills to find information which proves that the death of a boy in a children's care home, which was ruled an 'accident with a knife' was actually murder. The team are learning to trust each other, and to combine their talents to good effect. But when Dylan comes across information about her family, she is unable to trust the others enough to ask for help. Her harsh words and criticisms, particularly of Ketty, have antagonised them, and her assertion that she 'owns' the team because of her father has not helped. This isolation and frustration leads her to take risks when she meets Harry, and allows her feelings for him to cloud her judgement.

The reader may feel a little concerned at the beginning of this story about having to spend a whole book seeing events from the point of view of the unpleasant and ill-tempered Dylan. Fortunately the story also shows the determination of the others to help her, despite her resistance, and Dylan herself moves slowly towards a middle ground of trust and restraint. By the end of the book she has even taken on board their criticism that her super-power is selfish in nature, and is beginning develop it to help the other three. This is a thrilling helter-skelter of a story, full of dangers and crises and near-misses for our heroes, in the best traditions of the genre, but the thoughtful reader will also see, below the surface, questions about morality, power and control which will remain with them long after they have finished reading.

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending us this stimulating book.

Further reading suggestion: Fans of this book will want to read the others in the Medusa series: The Set Up, Hostage and The Rescue. Sophie McKenzie has also written two exciting stories about the effects of genetic manipulation, Blood Ties and Blood Ransom.

Sophie McKenzie's The Medusa Project Books in Chronological Order

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