Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Boy Without a Soul

The Book of Gabrielle- Part 2: The Boy Without a Soul by Michael Panckridge (black dog books)
PB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-174203183-5
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Gabrielle is the ‘chosen one’ the Voice in her head tells her; chosen to help others as long as she doesn’t delve too deeply into her past. She can see things others can’t, but she has no memory of anything before waking up in a hospital three months ago. But being fostered out into a loving family and starting at a new school is about to create new experiences in her current life.

Gabrielle meets brothers Michael and Jack. Michael the eldest is always competing with the quiet Jack. They exchange the usual bickering and attention seeking which disguises the real affection they have for one another. Gabrielle immediately notices something in Jack’s behaviour that appears abnormal. Her suspicions are confirmed by his lack of reaction when she confides in him that she can see dead people.

Ms Blackmore, their current school counsellor has inveigled her way into her position on the basis of an illustrious past in the Sciences, and has persuaded the principal to install surveillance cameras throughout their school as protection, but against what is not made clear to the headmaster. For there are sinister activities at hand and Blackmore’s past is not what people have been told. She has been secretly undertaking cloning experiments, and under her new guise of counsellor, has found an endless supply of victims to use in her dark practices.
The three children’s lives get woven together amidst tragic happenings and frightening revelations. But the feisty and persistent Gabrielle is not easily thwarted no matter what the odds. When Jack goes missing, Gabrielle and Michael turn Blackmore’s world back to front and upside down in their attempt to reveal the truth about what’s really going on in the school. Time is against the children and Blackmore is more powerful than two children trying to save a third.

This is a highly enjoyable series for early teenage readers with a fantastic protagonist in Gabrielle, full of fast-paced action, mystery, and twists and turns. The story is surpassed only by the incredibly unhinged imagination of the author who creates new jaw-dropping situations in every chapter for the children to work their way out of.

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