Tuesday, July 23, 2019
First sentence: The three Greystone kids always raced each other home when they got off the school bus, and Finn always won. It wasn't because he was the fastest. Even he knew that his older brother and sister, Chess and Emma, let him win so he could make a grand entrance.
Premise/plot: Kate Greystone is a single mom (a widow) raising three children on her own: Chess, Emma, and Finn. These kids are super-close to their mom. Readers get a small hint of the good times they share together before the mystery rapidly begins unfolding. It starts with the news. Three children in Arizona have been kidnapped. Sad? Sure! Of course, anyone empathetic would say so. But why should it change their lives and turn things topsy-turvy? That's part of the mystery, I suppose. But ultimately the first clue is that the three children share the kids' names, ages, and birthdays. And the kidnapped children also have a mom named KATE who looks IDENTICAL to their own mom. Though there's no indication that the Greystone children are familiar with THE TWILIGHT ZONE, they've certainly entered it, right?!?!
Mrs. Greystone feels led to ACT, to do SOMETHING, which means leaving Chess, Emma, and Finn in the care of Mrs. Morales and her daughter, Natalie. Natalie teams up with the Greystone children to solve the mystery...for their mom's business trip is no ordinary business trip...and Kate Greystone has been keeping a couple of HUGE secrets from her children.
My thoughts: If you enjoy books where middle school age children team up to solve mysteries--puzzles, codes, clues, oh my!--then The Strangers may be a perfect fit for you. It is the first in a new series. (I'm assuming there will be two books, perhaps three.) This one is told in alternating narratives: Emma, Finn, and Chess. Each voice is distinct, which is always a plus where you've got alternating narrators. It's always a disappointment when voices blend together and you're never sure who's who.
I am a BIG, BIG, BIG, BIG fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix. I love her adventure stories. She knows how to tell compelling stories with twists and turns (predictably they will have twists and turns, but the twists and turns themselves aren't always predictable). I love how characterization is never sacrificed in place of ACTION, ADVENTURE, THRILLS. You can have both.
Another bonus, for me, is this one has a cat.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews