Dark Eyes by William Richter

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Dark Eyes by William Richter

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Occasionally predictable but always exciting, this tense thriller has enough action to appeal to adults as well as teens.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Puffin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0141342344

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Born in Russia but brought up in New York by wealthy adoptive parents, before rejecting them to live on the streets with her friends, Wallis Stoneman has never known too much about her past. This lack of knowledge might turn out to be deadly, though, when a chance encounter leads to her being given a letter from her birth mother. As Wally tries to track her down, she and her friends enter a murky world where the stakes are high, the truth is hidden, and every move they make could be their last.

As the plot summary suggests, this is a thriller and it won’t disappoint anyone looking for a high-octane, exciting read. Richter has created a really strong heroine in Wally, sympathetic support from her street crew, her adoptive mother, and the detective trying to track her down, and some especially memorable villains. He also impresses me with a fast pace and realistic action scenes – perhaps unsurprisingly, as his background is as a screenwriter and he definitely makes it easy to visualise the big set pieces here. Wally has been trained previously in both mixed martial arts and shooting, which makes her being able to handle herself against tough opposition seem more believable than some characters doing this sort of thing is. It’s also a book which I can see having major appeal to a crossover audience rather than just teens – in a similar vein to The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman it feels more like an adult thriller than a teen novel in places.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have flaws – for a start, it’s a tad on the predictable side (in fairness to Richter, this definitely isn’t helped by a blurb on the back of the book which gives far too much away – avoid reading it!) There are also a couple of faltering moments when the plot seems to descend into slightly jarring psychobabble for a sentence of two, although they’re offset by some superb turns of phrase, my favourite line being Wallis was an angry and defiant twelve-year-old when she began the training. After two years, she was an angry and defiant fourteen-year-old who now knew fifty different ways to cripple a man. As those sentences might suggest, by the way, it’s probably not one for younger readers – there’s lots of violence and a bit of (tastefully described) sex.

Overall I’d happily recommend this one to both older teens and adults wanting to read a quick-moving thriller and will definitely be keeping an eye out for Richter’s next novel.

While reviewers here at the Bookbag have somewhat mixed feelings about the CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore, I think they're enjoyable reads which, like this one, don't hold back on the action. A good place to start is perhaps People's Republic, which is the thirteenth overall but the first to feature new CHERUB recruit Ryan as the central character. As mentioned earlier, The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman is another teen thriller with serious crossover appeal to adults as well.

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Buy Dark Eyes by William Richter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Eyes by William Richter at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Dark Eyes by William Richter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Eyes by William Richter at Amazon.com.


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