Crash Course

Matthew Reilly, Author, Pablo Raimondi, Illustrator , illus. by Pablo Raimondi. S&S $9.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4169-0225-6

Bestselling author Reilly (Area 7 ; Ice Station ) takes a rough detour into the world of children's books with the first book in the paper-over-board Hover Car Racer series, set in the near future ("Since hover technology required no gasoline to fuel it, the oil-producing countries of the Middle East crumbled"). Readers meet 14-year-old Australian Jason Chaser, who is determined to become a champion racer. His 12-year-old brother, Bug, serves as navigator for Jason during his races, though the brothers' relationship runs even deeper (the nearly autistic but mathematically brilliant Bug only communicates by whispering in Jason's ear). Jason places last in the Indo-Pacific Regional Championships, but nonetheless receives an invitation from Scott Syracuse, a famed ex-racer, to enter Race School and train to become a world-class racer. There Jason meets Ariel Piper, the only female student (resulting from a Citadel-esque legal coup), and he soon discovers that someone is sabotaging their cars. Jason races both to figure out who has it in for them and—against all odds—to win a coveted spot in the Sponsors' Event ("a feature race held in front of the schools' sponsors, benefactors, and famous ex-students"). Raimondi contributes stylized comic book-style pen-and-inks, and 3D maps of each race course begin various sections of the book. Unfortunately, racing clichés (e.g., the requisite photofinish), stock characters and a predictable plot make this feel like a treatment for a summer blockbuster movie. Ages 10-up. (June)

Reviewed on: 07/11/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 207 pages - 978-1-4169-0226-3
Paperback - 207 pages - 978-1-4169-2503-3
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