Monday, June 24, 2013

Nine days by Fred Hiatt

Ethan Wynkoop and his friend Ti-Anna Chen have an unusual friendship - mostly because her family would have trouble accepting that she has an American friend who also happens to be a boy.  Their secret friendship is really put to the test when Ti-Anna confides that her father has gone to Hong Kong and has gone missing - and she and her mother both fear that his status as an activist against Communist China has gotten him into trouble.

Thinking a little outside the box, Ethan comes up with a cunning plan - he and Ti-Anna can sneak off to Hong Kong and find her father - paid for by his "borrowed" credit card from his somewhat distracted and oblivious parents.  It seemed like a good idea, something that would be relatively simple to pull off, but right from the start there are forces at work that seem determined to keep Ti-Anna and Ethan from finding out the truth about what happened to her father.

Nine days is a relatively quick read, with the action happening in quick fire succession over the course of just over a week - the prose is well written without any waffly extra bits, which keeps the story moving forward (I think you will have no trouble picking up that the author is a newspaper journalist from his writing style).  The story itself is a little incredulous, that two teenagers could get so far in a country foreign to both of them, but it is not completely implausible.

The relationship between Ti-Anna and Ethan is very sweet, and you can see the depth of their friendship and the way it develops over the course of the novel.  This is an interesting political read too, not only because of the subject matter of the book, but also because of the note from the real Ti-Anna at the end of the book.  Communist China is a massive state, and it has been criticised over the years by many individuals who are considered very brave to speak out against the state, and I have heard stories of people being watched and "controlled" in the media - there is definitely a political lean to this novel, but it is not distasteful or too "in your face".

This book can be enjoyed as an adventure story, as an example of what two teenagers can do if they set their mind to something - but it can also be read as a true life read, and example of what happens when someone agitates against the State, and what can happen to young girls in foreign countries.  It is a social commentary, but it is also a great read.  This book will not be to everyone's taste because of the political overtones, but it was a good read.

If you like this book then try:
  • The recruit by Robert Muchamore
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Never fall down by Patricia McCormick
  • Trafficked by Kim Purcell
  • After by Francine Prose
  • The always war by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The walls have eyes by Clare B. Dunkle
  • Legend by Marie Lu

Reviewed by Brilla

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