FICTION

The Trigger Mechanism

St. Martin’s Griffin. (Camp Valor: Bk. 2). Feb. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250088253.
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Gr 9 Up–In this intense sequel to Camp Valor, Jalen, a young teen, gets tricked into killing 53 people via a hacked virtual reality setup. The action and violence do not slow down from that inciting incident, with Wyatt from the first book stepping in to help Jalen navigate this new world of government secrets. The two of them must track down a famous gamer, a teen girl who goes by Hi Kyto, and prevent Encyte, the cyberterrorist, from taking over smart devices all over the world. Jalen must attend Camp Valor, a secret summer camp to train teenagers in covert operations, though the Secretary of Defense wants to shut it down. Too many side plots and minor characters keep the book from moving along quickly, which is a downside for any striving readers who may be inclined to pick it up. The fantasy of teens playing a major role in a government agency and receiving help from a reclusive billionaire is appealing, though, and the video game themes are explored fairly well. Unfortunately, stilted dialogue and over-exposition keep this book from advancing to the next level.
VERDICT This overstuffed action novel is all flash and no substance. Purchase only if the first book is well-circulated.

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