Kidnapped and drugged, Ash wakes up on a remote tropical island. His mum - a genetic scientist - has been imprisoned and infected with a deadly virus. Where is he, and what's he doing there? He sets out to cross the jungle to find out and rescue his mother. Soon he realises he's quicker and sharper than before. But there's something else ...why are the animals watching him, and how can he use the jungle to his advantage?
Dan Smith writes great thrillers. I loved his Big Game, with its frantic pace and reluctant hero Oskari saving the US President from the bad guys in the wilds of Finland, and when his new book, Boy X, arrived through my door a while back it jumped straight to the top of my ultra-wobbly TBR pile.
The main protagonist of Boy X is another young teen boy who suddenly finds himself way out of his depth in a fight for survival against highly trained villains who are armed to the teeth. However, poor Ash McCarthy does not have the local knowledge advantages that Oskari had in Big Game: at the beginning of the book he wakes in a strange laboratory with no knowledge of why or how he got there. Add a race against time due to the release of a super-deadly new virus and Ash experience the emergence of strange new abilities, and we have all the ingredients for a superb sci-fi thriller, with Dan Smith as the masterchef bringing them all together. If you have a hunger for fast-paced action stories then this is a meal that will both satisfy your appetite and leave you wanting more.
Dan Smith is also a master at keeping his readers gripped by drip-feeding essential information about the plot and the characters' back-stories. There are no big info dumps or sudden reveals that feel forced or make the reader feel cheated. Despite the sci-fi element and the crazy situation in which they find themselves, Ash and his equally out-of-her-depth new friend Isabel, are real enough for young readers to relate to and they complement each other perfectly.
Dan Smith brings his story to an explosive and satisfying conclusion, but the final chapter leaves the reader with a promise that Ash's story is far from over. This is fabulous as I am certainly hungry for more, and I know many other with feel the same way. My thanks go to the lovely people at Chicken House for sending me a copy of the book.