The Medusa Project: The Rescue by Sophie McKenzie

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The Medusa Project: The Rescue by Sophie McKenzie

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: The exciting story of four teenagers with psychic abilities who endure a non-stop, adrenalin-filled battle for survival.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847385277

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It's a fascinating premise: four babies are implanted with a gene relating to psychic abilities, and as they grow up it becomes clear they have each reacted differently, and developed different skills. Then write four books (plus a short story for World Book Day) about their shared adventures, with each book focussing on one boy or girl in particular. In this book, Ed is the central character: he is able to read minds, but is forced to use his gift for evil in order to save his friends. A high-octane tale about four teens struggling to stay alive when it seems every adult on the planet is out to use them for their own ends.

In the third book in the series, The Rescue, no punches are pulled, either physically or metaphorically. The existence of the four companions has been discovered by the bad guys, and they are sent to Spain, to a secluded training camp, for their own protection. This is really the only slightly questionable part of the book: why would four such precious assets, who are clearly at risk of discovery, be left alone in a place where they cannot ask for help? A place their handlers seem to have completely failed to check out? They are, after all, being trained as a government-funded crime-fighting force, and yet the special agent tasked with mentoring them and helping them develop and control their abilities wanders off without even saying goodbye. Apart from the obvious benefit that this increases the group's sense of isolation and need to rely on each other, it is an odd plot ploy.

That apart, this is an exciting and action-filled story, with baddies galore. The four teens discover that children are being trafficked as slaves, and Ed in particular is determined to ride to the rescue. They also get embroiled with all manner of enemies, old and new, and have to endure some terrifying ordeals. The Rescue has a fairly simple, readable style which is ideal for its thriller category but make no mistake: this is not a book for very young readers. The violence is explicit and frequent, and one character who is close to the group actually dies. Readers over about twelve years of age will love it: anyone younger than that should approach it with caution.

The story is fast-paced, and there are plenty of twists to keep the reader from any sense of complacency about the heroes winning through. But the real strength of this book is in the characters. The young people have discovered their abilities, but do not always know how to use them effectively, or even like having them. Ed, for example, avoids looking people in the eye in case he inadvertently enters their minds, and as his subjects are aware of his presence, he cannot always use his gift to gain information. And Ketty can see the future, but does not know when she will get a vision or exactly what it means. In fact in this book she is so stressed she is unable to use her power at all until near the end. What is really fascinating about these four young people is that they help each other to understand their abilities and use them better: they seem like real human beings, not cartoon characters who acquire abilities and start to use them perfectly from day one.

This book is particularly successful because of the character of Ed. We see his anxieties and his self-doubts, his growing affection for one of the trafficked girls and at the same time his jealousy at the relationship between Nico and Ketty. He is a very believable, ordinary boy, and Sophie McKenzie's ability to read the mind and emotions of a teenage boy borders on a psychic power itself! Readers looking for a thrilling roller-coaster story will thoroughly enjoy this, and will look forward impatiently to the next one, where the more enigmatic Dylan takes centre stage.

Many thanks to the publishers for sending us this book.

Further reading suggestion: Sophie McKenzie has written several other excellent books: try Blood Ties, and also The Hostage, another book in the Medusa Project series. A more light-hearted approach to the ability to control people's minds, for younger readers, will be found in The Super Freak by Brian Falkner.

Sophie McKenzie's The Medusa Project Books in Chronological Order

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