Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black

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Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Five young people live in an abandoned bunker beneath the London Underground. Using their combined skills they carry out the kind of actions Robin Hood would be proud of: stealing from the rich to give to the poor. But now they've tangled with a very dangerous man indeed, and this time they may not escape alive.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: March 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books
ISBN: 9781408851418

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What skills would you need to trick the rich and powerful out of their ill-gotten gains? A posse of brilliant lawyers and accountants with elastic consciences? A cache of guns and bombs? Well, maybe, although it is very possible that all that will do is to turn you into villains as dirty as your marks. And, if you'll forgive the sudden descent into street-speak, that's not the way these five young Urban Outlaws roll.

They start with exceptional computer skills, obviously – there's not much that can be achieved these days in the world of finance and surveillance without that. That's Jack's role – he's the team's hacker and plan-maker extraordinaire. Plus, they need access to the most advanced technology around, and most of that they have to build for themselves. Take a bow, Charlie, who also functions as a sort of den-mother for the group. And more often than not, even with all that tech-power, you still have to have actual, physical access to the places and machines you want to, well, mess with. That's where free runner Slink comes in: he can climb walls as if he had suction pads instead of hands and feet, slip in and out of the smallest of spaces and cross the whole city without ever being spotted. And while these three are out and about, they need someone back home taking control of the bad guys' own spy cameras to check on them, doing the in-depth research and alerting his team to any unexpected glitches. That's Obi, who despite the fact that he's younger than the other two keeps trying to persuade everyone to call him Mission Commander. Sadly, much as they like and value him, he'll be waiting a long, long time for that particular title – say, until several minutes after the end of the world. And last of all, there's the new kid, Wren, whom they found curled up in a nest of blankets outside a homeless shelter, irony intended. She's cute, she's got the kind of winsome, fragile looks that can charm the dourest and beefiest of guards, and she'll pick your pocket and be at the other end of the street before you can even finish saying 'Hello little girl. Are you lost?'

Frankly, the criminal underworld doesn't stand a chance, although crime boss Del Sarto is going to get very close.

In this, the first of a five book series, the heart-stopping action starts on page one and doesn't let up until final sentence – and not even then. Whatever you do, don't pick up this book and begin reading just before you have to go out for a dentist's appointment or tea with Great-Aunt Mabel - putting the book down mid-read could seriously damage your health. It's fast, it's exciting, and yet, somehow, in the midst of all the thrills and chases and escapes, the reader still manages to get to know the five young people pretty well, from Obi's enforced diet (too little moving away from his beloved computer screens, too much pizza) to Charlie's love of speed. The hundred miles an hour and screeching round corners on the rim of your wheels type of speed, that is: for all the 'liberating' of other people's money and breaking a few squillion other laws, these guys are clean-living, moral and committed. There's a lovely scene involving an old gentleman who has let his house go to rack and ruin since his wife's death that will bring a tear to the most macho of eyes, for example. Definitely a book for adventure-lovers, be they male or female, confident reader or teen – and the best thing is, there are four more books to come.

And while you're waiting for the next book . . . the king of the high-octane, gadget-filled thriller for young people has to be Antony Horowitz: our reviewer had to wrest Crocodile Tears (Alex Rider) from the eager hands of her grandsons. And don't be put off by any mention of fairies in Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer: there's not a speck of glitter to be found in this excellent cops-and-robbers series.

Buy Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black at Amazon.com.


Booklists.jpg Urban Outlaws by Peter Jay Black is in the Top Ten Books for Confident Readers 2014.

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