cover image Dissidents


Neal Shusterman. Little Brown and Company, $28 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-316-78904-2

Following a solid debut with the complex and absorbing The Shadow Club , Shusterman's second book is awash with simplistic notions about U.S.-Soviet relations and issues of family trust. Derek Ferretti's father dies in an car accident and he is sent to Moscow to live with his mother, the American ambassador to the Soviet Union. A born troublemaker and wiseguy, he finds residence as the ambassador's son a little too confining. Then he falls for Anna Shafiroff, the daughter of a famous, exiled Soviet dissident, and decides to reunite father and daughter. The plot machinations--Derek's plan succeeds, he meets the General Secretary, his strict, unfeeling mother unleashes her maternal instincts at last--demonstrate Shusterman's basically patronizing attitude toward his material. As adventure, this is a briskly paced, intriguing book; it strains only because it is so intent on being something more. Ages 12-up. (May)