An adrenalin-packed action adventure story with plenty of intrigue, great characters and a cinematic setting. Not to be missed!
Finn wants to be actor but, when his first ever lines in a film are cut, he’s happy to settle for stunt-double. He has all the skills for this demanding role: he’s a natural dare devil with a karate black-belt (almost). The only downside is the person Finn has to double for: Finn and teen-star Blake have history and a relationship of mutual hatred. Pretty soon, however, this is the least of Finn’s worries. The eccentric film director, Novak, pushes him to the limits with increasingly dangerous stunts, manipulating Finn into doing the stunts without safety gear. But that seems tame when they transfer to film on location in a remote part of Papua New Guinea and Finn discovers what Novak really has planned for him.
As this brief summary suggests, this is an adrenalin-packed action adventure story with plenty of intrigue. Unlike some in this genre, it also has strong characters. For example, we easily and immediately identify with Finn, largely because of the effective first person narrative. We’re also quickly intrigued by the history between him and teen-star, Blake. (I particularly liked the fact that this ‘history’ turned out to be something relatively ordinary). While both boys are well drawn, I personally loved the two female characters, Anna and Mawi, who both figure out what’s going on quicker than the boys and also have the quick-wits to act on their discoveries. In an action adventure with male leads, it’s refreshing to find equally strong female characters. Thank you Tamsin!
Film director, Novak, is the perfect Bond-style villain with her irrational demands and heartless behaviour. She even has the almost obligatory foreign accent that’s going to be perfect if (hopefully when) this book is made into a film.
The book is incredibly cinematic. The descriptions leap off the page, painting pictures in the reader’s mind without them noticing the text. The settings are especially vivid. In the questions and answers at the end of the book, Tamsin Cooke explains she hasn’t actually been to Papua New Guinea but she did drawn on her time spent in the rainforests in Hawaii, Mexico, St Lucia and Thailand and this most definitely shows.
The plot is slightly far-fetched, from how Finn is recruited to the way he is able to do his stunts without the usual safety equipment. It becomes even more incredible when the film goes on location and three children are expected to survive in the jungle with no training and minimal equipment. This is, however, totally in keeping with this genre and I would have been disappointed with anything less dramatic. Indeed, this is one of the best in this genre of adrenalin-packed action stories. My only regret was that it was over too fast. Luckily the ending gives us a clear hint that there are more books about Finn to come.
If you enjoyed this, why not try another action-adventure in a similar tropical setting: I loved Boy X by Dan Smith. Alternatively, you should also check out the now classic action stories about 14 year-old reluctant spy Alex Rider: the series starts with Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz.
Publication date: July 2017
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Author: Tamsin Cooke
Review first published on The Bookbag