Sunday, January 18, 2009

TORCHED by April Henry

Ellie is the adopted daughter of a couple of old hippies. They love telling stories about their past as young rebels and spend their time looking out for new causes and smoking pot. It wasn't unusual then when members of MED, the Mother Earth Defenders, started hanging around in Ellie's living room. There were some fairly lively discussions and one pretty cute guy named Coyote.

When Ellie agreed to a couple of coffee shop dates with Coyote, little did she know she would soon be learning more about him and the MEDics' causes than she ever wanted to know. The cops had evidently been keeping an eye on Ellie's house because known members of the group had been meeting there. During a raid to arrest the group cops had labeled "ecoterrorists," Ellie's parents were arrested for drug trafficking. Being arrested was not new to the couple, but in the past they had been younger and healthier. Now the prospect of jail time was frightening, especially for Ellie's father and his weak heart. In order to protect her parents, Ellie finds herself agreeing to help the FBI in their investigation of the MEDics.

Now Ellie is closer than ever to the handsome Coyote, but she also can't believe she is buying dark colored clothing from the Goodwill store and planning a solo initiation attack to convince the group that she is legit. Once she is accepted as part of the group things begin to escalate. They may be protecting "mother earth," but they don't seem to be above taking human lives to further their cause.

TORCHED by April Henry is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. The book starts with a Prologue that puts readers in the thick of the action, and things don't slow down from there until the end. As a reader, I became involved in the story on several levels. I liked the fast-paced action, but I also found myself identifying with the MED cause. Protecting our great planet is a worthy cause, and Ellie's experience did have me thinking about many of the wasteful things I do to contribute to the problem. TORCHED should prove popular with many teen readers.

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