Monday, September 27, 2010

Secret Vengeance by F. Paul Wilson

In the last few years young adult novels have become popular with many adults as well. F. Paul Wilson, one of the finest storytellers of my generation, has turned his hand to showing us the youthful days of Repairman Jack, the enormously popular namesake of his award-winning Repairman Jack adult series.

Wilson has his own style and voice, a vivid, evocative style that touches on all the senses to create a full, real world. In addition he paces his work the way a contemporary film editor would, knowing how to get into and out of a scene nimbly while demanding that the reader move quickly on to the next set-up. He's also got a great ear. His people sound like people, something I see less and less of these days.

All these writerly virtues are on display in SECRET VENGEANCE, the third in the Young Jack YA series. Here Jack helps defend a classmate named Weezy who has been sexually assaulted by a popular boy named Tolliver. But Weezy can't tell people the truth about what happened because of problems with her parents.

In the meantime Tolliver spreads the rumor that he had a great time with the "willing" Weezy. Her name quickly becomes "Easy Weezy" among her classmates. Wilson is particularly good here with the world of school, the cruelty of gossip and the fate of outcasts.

So Young Jack goes after Tolliver. Wilson knows how to build suspense and in trying to bring Tolliver to some kind of justice--and packing a number of surprises along the way--he points his story to the inevitable and surprising showdown.

A swift, compelling page-turner with some wise takes on the ways of teenagers.

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