The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor,
Hodder Children's Books,
London, 2012, 504 pp,
Charlie Dickinson review
The Repossession by Sam Hawksmoor, a young adult thriller, tells of a future high-tech experiment gone awry amidst small-town and backcountry British Columbia, Canada.
Hawksmoor's narrative premise: The "Fortress," an isolated and secret supercomputer and server farm, taking control of teens gone missing from a fictional hick town of Spurlake might have seemed farfetched not that long ago ...
But if I had doubts about the power of Hawkmoor's Fortress supercomputer, I only had to look at the April 2012 issue of Wired magazine. The cover article, "Inside the Matrix," details what the U.S. National Security Agency is up to now. They're building a computing center to intercept and store all phone calls, emails, Google searches--any Internet traffic you care to name in the world--with promises to hack encryption and build dossiers down to the individual.
So, the creepy high-tech horror teenage couple Genie and Rian come up against, and fight to the final pages, is believable in its possession premise, as well as emotionally true and satisfying.
But more than a compulsively readable thriller narrative, I enjoyed the sensitive characterization Hawksmoor deploys.
Essential, of course, is the young couple finding first love in each other's eyes: Genie Magee (lively and psychically gifted) and Rian Tulane (resourceful and chivalrous). Wisely, Hawskmoor avoids a physical relationship for these fifteen-year-olds: far too much of a distraction from the real story.
Enough strong antagonists to keep things on the boil, especially evil, hypocritical, and dissembling Reverend Schneider, head of Spurlake's Church of the Free Spirits. Toss in malevolent employees at the Fortress and a few needy, rigid parents who know how to kill teenage spirit.
But my favorite was Marshall--an older, one-legged apple farmer, who takes Genie and Rian under his wing. Marshall knows the worlds of good and evil, having once worked at the Fortress with enthusiasm for the ambitious goal of their experimentation. But not on human subjects, so he withdraws to farming and will protect the young couple.
Teenage readers will also appreciate The Repossession for a contemporary feel of dialogue and attitudes and up-to-date reference to our digital lives--even electric Leaf cars we might drive.
In sum, The Repossession features multi-dimensional appeal and a shattering conflict of good and evil in the backcountry of British Columbia. A sequel--The Hunting--is due from Hodder this August.
© Charlie Dickinson April 2012
See the Thrilling sequel by Sam Hawksmoor: The Hunting
See also Things We Didn't See Coming by Steven Amsterdam