Edge: 1

Michael Cadnum, Author Viking Children's Books $15.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-87335-7
The first few chapters of this sober, ambitious novel seem oddly disconnected: the narrator, Zachary Madison, incites a news-making brawl, finds an abandoned gun, describes the theft of his car and flashes back to his impulsive decision to quit high school. With these dark events Cadnum (Taking It; Zero at the Bone) establishes an ominous tone that foreshadows a cataclysmic act of violence--the near-fatal shooting of Zachary's divorced father, a highly respected science writer. Zachary puts on a stoic front as his thoughts skitter from past incidents (which now take on a deeper meaning) to fantasies of revenge against the man responsible for paralyzing his father from the neck down. Throughout, Zachary's mother's affection for her ex-husband (""She always imagined Dad would remarry for a third time, to her, his first wife"") is more pointedly conveyed than her son's attitude, which, realistically, mixes glimmers of resentment with respect for his father. While the story's nonlinear movement is dramatically effective at times, abrupt transitions may confuse all but sophisticated readers. As a whole, the book has the same steeliness of the author's earlier works, but lacks their tautness and full complement of suspense. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1997
Release date: 08/01/1997
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