Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Review: The Darkest Path, by Jeff Hirsch

If you like books with non-stop action that keeps you on the edge of your seat, The Darkest Path might be just the book for you.

The United States has been split into two factions that are fighting a brutal war. The Federals are what remains of our traditional government after economic ruin has caused a split. The new faction, The Glorious Path, are led by Nathan Hill, a religious fanatic that demands his followers commit to The Path or be executed. As they take over more and more of the country, the movement gains strength.

Cal and his brother were taken from their family and forced to follow The Path six years ago. Cal ends up escaping, and the death-defying adventure begins.

The Darkest Path isn't big on character development. Yes, we get some back story from Cal, but the rest of the characters seem to just move the plot along. And the plot definitely moves! Younger teens, especially boys, will have difficulty putting The Darkest Path down after once picking it up. Cal ends up meeting different people as he struggles to return to his home, and each of these groups challenge him in a different ways. But there's always a challenge. And, yes, Cal gets a bit lucky some times, but hey, he's our hero. He also forms a relationship with a tough teen girl. But it doesn't really get to the point of romance.

And there's a dog! I'm a dog lover, and Bear really helped lighten the story.

I have one complaint about the pacing and the story. In the middle, Cal ends up with a group of spoiled, rich teens that have apparently no idea of what is going on in their country. Their rich parents have sent them to a safe mountain mansion, and provided military guards to ensure their safety.  Come on, really? When they find out Cal has been with The Path, they think it's cool and want to hear all about his exciting adventures. That would be like one of our teens today thinking it is "cool" to have been in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and watching your comrades get blown up by IEDs. I was unable to believe that even teenagers could be that naive when obviously over half the country was being overtaken in a very violent war that had been going on for years.  Not to mention that this part of the story was pretty slow and without any action.  Fortunately, this part of The Darkest Path didn't last very long.

As a matter of fact, the entire story went very quickly. Hirsch is great at explaining situations and scenes, and that's why his books appeal to so many teens. So, while the story isn't perfect, I've no doubt it will have wide appeal, especially to younger teen boys.

Published by Scholastic, September 24, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
336 pages

Rating: 3/5

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  1. Great review. a Quick pace always helps. too bad on character development though. I am really big on that too.

  2. This sounds like a book I would enjoy and fly right through. It's a shame the character development wasn't better, but I think that often happens in these sorts of reads. Can't wait to meet Bear when I read this. :-) Great review!


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