January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord

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January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord

Buy January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: First up in a series of books out monthly over 2010, all comprising one conspiracy thriller chase. Reluctant readers meet Jack Bauer in what is shaping up to be a highly enjoyable and accessible story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: January 2010
Publisher: Hodder
ISBN: 0340996447

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Callum is wandering along home on New Year's Eve when crazed itinerant accosts him.

They killed your father! They'll kill you! You must survive the next 365 days!

The man is carted off in an ambulance, and Cal tries to shrug off the incident but it's not easy. How did the man know his name? How did he know that Cal's father was dead? Who could possibly want to kill a run of the mill adolescent like him? What is the Ormond Singularity that the man kept shouting about? And the thing is, Cal's father had written to him shortly before returning home already in the throes of a fatal illness. His father was vague on detail, but is pretty sure he was on to something big. Could there be a connection?

Only too soon, Call discovers that there is a connection, and a far more dangerous one that he could ever imagined...

Oh! I really liked this first episode of Conspiracy 365. It's the first in a series of twelve, with each one published monthly thoughout 2010. It's written in the form of a diary and this one, obviously enough, covers January. It comes in at under two hundred pages - the pages are numbered backwards, in homage to the countdown plot device - and it's a real no-nonsense affair. The writing is crisp and sharp, accessible and clear, and we launch straight into the action.

Everyone loves a good conspiracy thriller, and the success of televisions's Jack Bauer and 24 has shown that there's a big appetite out there for episodic, cliffhanging variations on the theme. Conspiracy 365 buys right into that and does it well. You could see it as a twenty-first century penny dreadful, I suppose, and it has an honourable tradition behind it. I tend to dislike cliffhanger endings in children's fiction, but when the cliffhanger is the point and the next book is just four weeks away, I make an exception.

Cal is a winning central character - not geeky or macho, just a young boy grieving for a recently-dead parent who is thrown into a maelstrom of events he's totally unprepared to withstand. He's a reluctant hero, but he's a game one, and I think he's going to engage a wide readership.

Because it's sharp, short and adrenalin-fuelled, it's going to appeal to reluctant readers. But because it's well-written and carefully plotted with a good deal of thought behind it, it's also going to make a satisfying read for the bookworm. Recommended for all readers aged from about ten or eleven right up to school leavers.

There's lots of rather slick interactivity at Cal on the Run. Have a look!

My thanks to the nice people at Hodder for sending the book.

If they like the episodic nature of Conspiracy 365, they should look no further than Tim Bowler's outstanding Blade series to see just how far and how creatively this kind of thing can be taken.

Buy January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord at Amazon.co.uk

Buy January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy January (Conspiracy 365) by Gabrielle Lord at Amazon.com.


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