Sister, Missing by Sophie McKenzie
|Sister, Missing by Sophie McKenzie|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Two years ago Lauren discovered she had been kidnapped as a small child, and set out with her friend Jam to find her birth mother. She is now settling into a routine, and spends time with each of her two families. But another crisis, the kidnap of her little sister, threatens to destroy everything she loves.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: September 2011|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Lauren has spent a tumultuous couple of years, finding her birth mother and working out ways to stay in the lives of both of her families. To make things unbearably harder, her father Sam has died suddenly, nine months before the beginning of this story, and the constant hostility of her older sister shows no sign of abating. Shelby, understandably, resents the constant attention paid to this sister who turned up out of the blue one day, and feels she is being ignored in consequence.
Then yet another disaster strikes the family. Lauren's birth mother takes her, with her two sisters, on holiday in the hope that a few relaxing days together will help everyone. But the youngest sister Madison is snatched from the beach, exactly as Lauren herself was, years before. Lauren blames herself, because she was supposed to be looking after the little girl at the time, and sets out, with the help of her close friend Jam, to get her back. All the evidence suggests the kidnapper is the same woman who took her, and fear, rage and determination lead Lauren to take several desperate risks in order to save Madison.
This book is a direct follow-on from 'Girl, Missing' which is set two years in the past, and features many of the same characters. Although reading the earlier book first will give a clear context for this one, it is quite possible to enjoy this as a stand-alone. There are plenty of references to the previous story to explain relationships between the main characters, often in the form of heated and angry exchanges which clearly show that achieving a goal is not necessarily the end of the story in such situations. Indeed, the most intriguing part of this whole book is the examination of how Lauren and her two families cope after the police and the newspapers have gone. In the midst of all the danger and drama, Lauren finds herself worrying about the future of her relationship with Jam, and the ever-present sullenness and anger from Shelby reminds her at every turn that she is not as welcome in her own family as she had dreamed she would be.
If you like your stories fast-paced, full of dangers and conflicts and impossible situations, then you will love this book. Lauren and the others endure all manner of perils and threats, and the plot twists and turns like a helter-skelter. Characters turn out to be not what they seemed, and you never know from one chapter to the next who will suddenly change sides and betray or help. There is time, however, for ample exploration of Lauren's state of mind, particularly her guilt at not protecting Madison from harm and her despair as the whole horrible nightmare starts again.
Such a roller-coaster of a plot does have a few disadvantages. Lauren and her friends go through the most extraordinary number of perils, and the reader will need to make a firm decision to suspend their disbelief. Revelation follows revelation at break-neck speed, heaping every possible pain and misery on Lauren, and it is admirable how she manages to stay focussed and determined to succeed throughout it all. She does tend to be rather unlikeable at times, but that is understandable in such stressful circumstances, and as the story moves along so fast, the one or two glaring holes in the plot fade into the blur. The best thing to do is to read this book as fast as you can, and just enjoy the heart-wrenching, death-defying incidents as they flash by. It may be far-fetched, but it's a thrilling ride!
Further reading suggestion: Sophie McKenzie has written a highly successful series about four young people with unusual powers. Bookbag especially recommends The Medusa Project: Hunted and The Medusa Project: The Rescue. Readers at the younger end of the age range will enjoy Laura Marlin Mysteries: Kidnap in the Caribbean by Lauren St John.
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