To the average observer, Ashley Arthur is a teenager who maintains a low profile, studies hard and keeps pretty much to herself. Her father thinks she should get out more. Ash convinces him her classmates are boring, only interested in clothes, bands and politics – clique politics – as in who stole whose best friend. Besides, she’s got Benjamin as a friend.
If only her father knew. If he hadn’t been so preoccupied with his own problems, he might have noticed that his daughter’s life was anything but mundane. And as for getting out more –
Ash is not into socialising in a big way because she has too many secrets. What’s the point of having friends if you can’t talk to them? How would she explain all her absences? It was hard enough doing that with her dad.
Ashley and Benjamin are teenage mercenaries. Their brief is to locate stolen artefacts and return them to their owners. For a fee – a large fee. In Hit List, Ash and Benjamin are hired to rescue an imprisoned girl, but things go awry and get out-of-this-world dangerous when it turns out they are not alone in their mission.
Jack Heath has written another edge-of-your-seat page-turner. It’s a ripper of an adventure and hard to put down. Think James Bond and Alex Rider. This is his sixth book and the second in the Ashley Arthur series.
Heath has done his homework and doesn’t shy away from a bit of blood and gore. The miners were strewn all over the floor of the tunnel. Most had exit wounds in their backs. The rest had imploded heads. Ash could smell the blood, rank and coppery.
Heath incorporates a good mix of dry wit and humour into the text. His writing is tight, scenes well developed and the dialogue believable, engaging his YA readers at a number of levels. His plotting, overall, is well thought out, although I was disappointed with the epilogue, which, in contrast to the rest of the book, seemed rushed.
For readers who don’t mind having their imaginations stretched and are up for some high teen adventure, this book will not disappoint. And a bargain at the special price of $9.99. Recommended.
Pan Macmillan 2010
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 25, Issue 5, November 2010)