Empty Quarter by Julia Golding

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Empty Quarter by Julia Golding

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: A fast paced adventure across the sunny Mediterranean, perfect for girls who like a strong female main character and plenty of action and adventure.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Egmont Books Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405228190

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Darcie Lock has just recovered from her last adventure, trying to rescue her father. It's bad enough that she's had to spend the last six weeks in a wheelchair and leave her home and friends behind, but now she knows her parents are top secret agents she begins to wonder if she really knows them at all. Then she gets a letter from the grandfather she never knew she had, and he's sending her on an exclusive cruise tour of the Mediterranean – a small thank you for everything Darcie has done over the last few months.

Darcie thinks the cruise is a holiday, but it turns out to be a bootcamp for troubled rich teenagers. Little does she know, but her Grandfather is also a top secret agent, and he has set her up to spy on the President's daughter, Shelly. Shelly is a real wild child and quickly gets Darcie into a lot of trouble, but the trouble really kicks off when the tour takes them into the Sahara desert's Empty Quarter, where a group of Egyptian terrorists kidnap Shelly, Darcie and Jon Lee, another teen on the cruise.

When the terrorists discover Darcie is a spy, they leave her for dead in the desert. Darcie has to call on all her knowledge and resourcefulness if she's ever going to survive and help rescue Shelly and Jon Lee.

OK, it could be argued that the 'my parents are super spies/mini James Bond' idea has been done to death. In a market place already flooded with Alex Rider, Spy Kids, Agent Cody Banks and the countless other gadget-wielding children, is there really any room, or any need for another? Of course there is. Spies are really cool.

Empty Quarter is a fast paced adventure across the sunny Mediterranean, and the second book featuring heroine Darcie Lock. While the plot features tick all the espionage boxes, with double crossings, kidnappings, evil plots and some ninjas, it feels fresh and interesting because Julia Golding has such a lovely writing style. The troublesome rich kids are appalling without being two dimensional, so you really feel for Shelly when she gets kidnapped, and there are some real cheer out loud moments when Darcie foxes her kidnappers, the cruise staff, and even the government.

One thing I felt that made this book stand out from the many other 'spy kids' books I've read is you really get a sense of Darcie's vulnerability. While in the back of your mind you feel fairly secure in thinking that everything will be OK in the end (cemented by the fact the book contains an advert for the next instalment) occasionally you find yourself worrying just what sort of shape Darcie will be in by the last page.

While Empty Quarter isn't going to win any prizes for originality, it's very good fun to read. I suspect it will be most popular among pre to mid-teen girls who like a strong female character and plenty of action and adventure.

If spy stories are your kind of thing, try Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

Buy Empty Quarter by Julia Golding at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Empty Quarter by Julia Golding at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Empty Quarter by Julia Golding at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Empty Quarter by Julia Golding at Amazon.com.


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