Rated 3.00/5 based on 1 reviews
When Jubal Slade moved his children to Texas and went to enroll his children in a new school, they discover more than they bargained for. Because of controlling coaches and competitive systems, the children are left with only one school option, Oatman High School. His boys, along with his gifted daughter Taz, uncover corruption, greed, and thievery throughout the district. More

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Review by: Edwin Stark on April 20, 2011 :
Here was a story I desperatedly tried to like, for it had an intriguing premise from the start. Interesting situations, potentially likeable characters and a nice twist somewhere in the middle.

However, here's an author that, although he seems able to grasp all the necessary story elements (I sampled 'Sara Bear', his other book for the sake of comparison; grab that one instead), is apparently unable to make a decent lift off: the promising characters lack enough development, have
almost aimless motivations and the story is told in unmanageable linear and straightforward chunks of text; no scene breaks, poor handling of story flow and there's no feeling of time passing in the tale, which are important elements in what is supposed to be a detective mystery. Also thepacing is wrong... it starts nice and slow as a good mystery should, but it suddenly starts to move with the speed of a landslide.

Taz, the 10-year old heroine wiz-kid, seems to be pulling cute stunts of superior thinking and skills without even blinking; it made me feel as if she was a prestidigitator pulling hankies and ace cards from her sleeves. She has a devil-may-care attitude toward it and she doesn't even seems to be stumped or even daunted by the troubles ahead.
Heavens! even the great Nero Wolfe has been put in a dumbfounded position once or twice, confound it!

Now, there's something else that bothered me... and it was the preachy tone the book had concerning education and school-related sports. It was as if the author was acting like a nutter in Hyde Park, standing on a soapbox and yelling at me his viewpoints on the subject matter. I should know, for I've been guilty of that same sin in my first novel, AI Rebellion; I noticed it in the first draft, and did my best to hammer out the most of it in my second and third draft.

If this author does a major re-write, fleshes the story out with some more character motivations, puts a leash on Taz and her bag of superior skills, weeds out some of the preachy tone and has a careful eye on the pacing, he'll likely end with a potential hit in his hands.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
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