The Viper Within

Sam Mills, Author
Sam Mills, Author . Knopf $16.99 (296p) ISBN 978-0-375-84465-2
Reviewed on: 06/23/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Library Binding - 296 pages - 978-0-375-94465-9
Open Ebook - 175 pages - 978-0-375-84949-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-07305-0
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U.K. author Mills's U.S. debut about a kidnapping gone haywire ventures into Edward Bloor/Ouida Sebestyen territory, but lacks the tension and shrewd psychological calculation to pull off its sensationalist plot. Jeremiah, an obviously sociopathic high-school student, has founded the Religion of the Hebetheus and persuaded a handful of his damaged peers to join his cult. Convincing his followers that he has overheard a beautiful, supposedly Muslim classmate named Padma (she's Hindu) tell a friend that she has plans to plant a bomb in her locker, he masterminds her kidnapping. The “brethren” hold her hostage for days in a cottage whose tenant, an old lady, lies in her bed, newly dead. Jon, the book's confused narrator, predictably falls for Padma and has a change of heart, as do other disciples; as none of them are any too bright, readers will find it hard to stay interested in their thinking. The fiery Waco-like showdown at the end feels not only obvious but overdue. Ages 14–up. (June)

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