Friday, July 13, 2007

A Peak Experience

Peak by Roland Smith
4Q 5P M/J

Peak lives in New York City, which isn't exactly the ideal place to live if your sport is mountain climbing. On the other hand, NYC does have really tall things to climb, as long as you don't get caught climbing them. Unfortunately, Peak does get caught, just as he finishes tagging the Woolworth Building (his tag is little blue mountains) and hauls himself onto the roof of the skyscraper. He's under arrest, facing several years in juvenile detention. Fortunately, his father shows up just in time and makes a bargain with the judge and prosecutors: he'll take Peak out of the country and make the story go away if they will drop the charges. Little do they, or Peak, realize that Peak's father has big plans for Peak: He's going to be the youngest climber to summit Mount Everest.

Musings as I read this book:

I loved the first couple of chapters. "The Hook" really is a great hook. I love the way Smith makes you think one thing is going on and then switches it up just enough to make you realize he was thinking "Gotcha!" as he reached the end of the chapter.

I don't much like Peak's father. Talk about an "it's all about me" guy! When Peak asks him if he'd have come to New York (to bail him out of serious trouble) if he had already been fifteen and his father says no, I wanted to kick the guy.

I also like that Smith wrote a really good adventure/survival story, but doesn't sacrifice humor to do it. Talking about a reporter who has insinuated herself onto the climb but who is clearly neither mentally nor physically prepared for it, Peak writes:
    "Inside a tent her voice was shrill enough to sour yak butter. She was no longer gasping, which I missed because the pauses gave my ears a chance to rest."

You've got to laugh at that!

If you want to know more about Roland Smith, check out his web site. You can find his Cryptid Hunter in the children's department (I'm waiting for a sequel!) and Jake's Run and its sequel Zach's Lie in the Teen Room.

Update: I will shortly be posting a booktalk for this book. I'll use "booktalk" as a tag because it's not one of the ones I did for the Connecticut Library Association.

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