Author: Caroline B Cooney
Publisher: Open Road Young Readers, reprint 2012
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
The writer / blogger in me knows a simple truth–typos happen. Anyone who has a smart phone these days knows what “autocorrect” is, and they also know how un-helpful it can be at times. I think that we can all forgive the occasional typo, even in a published novel. I for one, pride myself when I find typos, giving myself a little pat on the back for having such an “editor eye”. All of that being said, there is a line that can be crossed where even I am left so annoyed that I cannot finish the book. The 2012 Open Road reprint of The Terrorist by Caroline B Cooney has crossed that line. There were so many typographical errors and misused words that I stopped counting, and reading. It was several weeks before I could finally pick the book back up and finish it.
I wish that I could say that the poor editing was the only problem with the book and that The Terrorist would be a poignant work of fiction worth placing on any young adults bookshelf– but that is simply not the case. The story begins with the death of a boisterous young American boy in England, an act of terrorism which leaves the book’s characters in a state of fear and panic. The boy’s sister, Laura, takes it upon herself to find the course of the act-and to find revenge as well. My problem with this part of the story is that it is a completely realistic reaction for a teenager. If this teenager were smart and savvy she may be able to find some answers. Laura, however, is neither of those things. She is a stereotypically ignorant and self-important American teenager. She’s a two-dimensional character who acts in accordance to a very bad stereotype, yet has smart and loving international friends who forgive her faults, including her blatant racism.
While Laura is busy interrogating her devoted friends about bombs and religion, she finds herself in the midst of a crisis for her schoolmate, Jehran. Jehran’s family is forcing her into an arranged marriage, and her only means of escape is to use Laura’s deceased brother’s passport to escape to America. Luckily, Jehran, a petit middle eastern beauty, looks just like Laura’s loud and boisterous younger brother. A well placed base-ball cap is all she needed. Far fetched, but okay.
Laura and Jehran head to the airport with two tickets they purchased in cash (also far-fetched, but okay). While they are there her friends follow with a teacher in tow to stop them. The airport scene is the most exciting part of the entire book, though I do not think the preceding 100+ pages are worth it. Cooney made a valiant attempt at writing a book that could be a powerful look at the world of international terrorism and how it affects teenagers everywhere. Unfortunately, she fell flat. My advice to Miss Cooney? Find a new editor.
Posted by: Janine Reads