By Sam Hawksmoor
Published by Hodder/Hachette Children's Book
ISBN 979 0 340 99708 6
Writing a science-fiction novel with a ring of truth is difficult, but Canadian writer Sam Hawksmoor nails it with the bone-chilling The Repossession. Hawksmoor gets everything spot on. His setting is well drawn and real, his protagonists are appealing and the premise behind the scientific horror he asks his readers to believe is just this side of totally credible.
A good sci-fi novel puts humans in peril because science has spun out of control. The victims of science in The Repossession are 34 (at last count) teenagers from the small Canadian town of Spurlake. These teens have just vanished off the face of the Earth over the past few years.
Something, obviously, is not quite right in sleepy Spurlake, and it's not long before readers of this knockout novel discover just what is behind these mysterious happenings.
Hawksmoor gets two things right from page one: his setting and his two main characters. The wild and majestic, but ever-so eerie, natural beauty of British Columbia plays a big part in his scheme to grip his readers. And in the middle of this real and intriguing setting is the little town of Spurlake where no one can be trusted or believed.
The novel's central two characters who instigate the action and get caught up in the chilling truth are special. The relationship between Genie and Rian captivates the readers as much as the sci-fi element of the novel.
Genie Magee hasn't seen her boyfriend Rian for weeks because she's been grounded. Genie's mother is caught up in the weird religious beliefs of Reverend Schneider, who is slowly mesmerising many of Spurlake's inhabitants. Resourceful Rian knows what's going on, and he daringly rescues Genie, and they run away.
But as they leave town, they are caught up in a terrible flash flood that comes out of nowhere, and they're carried away by the surging waters. This section of The Repossession contains some of the most exciting writing anywhere around in young adult fiction at the moment; Hawksmoor is at the top of his game in these pages.
Genie and Rian are washed up at a remote farmstead. The farmer, a mysterious ex-scientist, takes them in. But there are inexplicable newspaper clippings of the missing kids fixed to the farmer's bathroom wall. Rian and Genie learn about a strange research station nearby, and are drawn into its clutches. And so the chills, paranoia and thrills begin.
The Repossession is a stand-out novel in every respect. Hawksmoor's story is all a little far-fetched - missing teens, a sinister lab hidden deep in the woods, an evil cleric with a nasty secret up his sleeve - but due to his classy narrative skills, it becomes utterly plausible
There are some talented people writing young adult fiction at the moment, and Sam Hawksmoor is definitely one to add to this illustrious list.
John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com