Chris Lynch, Author . Scholastic $16.99 (158p) ISBN 978-0-545-02793-9

Setting this adventure in the future, Lynch (Inexcusable ) plays on themes dear to middle-schoolers: the bond between children and animals, the mistrust of authority, the double edge of technology that offers shortcuts but erodes independence. Zane, the narrator, lives surrounded by monitors, and he wears an anklet at all times: “[It] connected into the very me with a wire that goes right under my skin and on into the who knows what depths of me.” So he feels sympathetic when his dog, Hugo, returns from the vet implanted with a chip that lets people “read [his] heart and mind,” and then engineers a trip to the WildArea, the one place where nature is still allowed to take its course. Convinced by Hugo, Zane sets about trying to free the animals in thrall to the vet. The action doesn't let up long enough for readers to start questioning some plot holes; perhaps these will be closed in a planned sequel. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/08/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Paperback - 158 pages - 978-0-545-02796-0
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