The Starlight Claim

Candlewick. Sept. 2019. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536202649.
Gr 8 Up–This taut and twisty thriller follows teen protagonist Nate as he navigates difficult physical and psychological landscapes. Physically, Nate decides to take his first solo trip to Ghost Lake, battling a blizzard and the bitter cold alone, unbeknownst to his parents. When he arrives at his family’s camp, he finds a group of strange men, who turn out the be escaped prisoners from a nearby maximum-security facility. Nate is forced to leave his supplies and hide out in his friends’ deserted camp to keep safe. Luckily, Nate is no stranger to the wilderness, and this obstacle gives him an opportunity to prove himself against the elements. Nate also journeys through the psychological landscape of his grief at the passing of his best friend—the true reason for his solo journey—the threat of violence from the prisoners, and the uncovering of some incredible family secrets. Nate is able to put the painful memories of his best friend to rest while also coming to understand the long-standing feud between his father and grandfather. The conclusion of the novel includes intense moments of suspense and violence, and Nate must decide if he’s the type of man to fend for himself or protect others, no matter the cost. Although this book was written as a companion to a much earlier Wynne-Jones novel, giving it a lackluster title that is never explained in the text, it can stand alone. The novel is a modern-day Hatchet with plenty of thrills for teen readers.
VERDICT A suspenseful thriller about survival against the elements—both physical and mental.

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