“Who is Rick Walker?” the judge intoned. . .
Rick knew he wasn’t dangerous to anybody, if that was what the judge was getting at. Throwing rocks at a stop sign wouldn’t suggest that he was, would it? He’d never hurt anybody.
“For violating the express conditions of your probation, six months in Blue Canyon Youth Detention Center,” the judge pronounced. . .
Rick went instantly numb. Paralyzed. Struck by lightning. He’d heard about Blue Canyon, down near Las Vegas. There were even murderers in there.
Fourteen-year-old Rick Walker has had a tough time. He was raised by his grandmother, and by foster parents after her death, then finally, wound up in a group home. These people didn’t even care enough to come with him to court. Now, a detention center. Because he has potential, the judge says, and Blue Canyon has an accredited education program. It doesn’t take Rick too long to learn how to get by. He sticks to himself, works out with the weights early and clears out before someone else wants them, reads in the library, stays out of the TV room, and works hard in the garden. He’s become strong, loves to read, and really enjoys the garden. By July, because of the heat, he finds he’s one of the few who is still out there. When the maintenance men destroy the garden so it doesn’t become an extra job for them, he retaliates by telling his social worker how they sell off the new air conditioners and replace them with older, reconditioned ones that don’t work well, and that they pay the guards to look the other way. His social worker gets fired and then Rick finds out “his name is on the cigarettes”. In other words, kids have been bribed with cigarettes to beat him to within an inch of his life. Now, there’s safety in numbers. He’s probably alright until morning. He has no choice. He has to run.
Thus begins the adventure. Rick has enjoyed reading about Greek mythology in the prison library; especially the story about Icarus and the maze. “His own life was a puzzle riddled with dead ends. His own life was a maze.” And now, by coincidence, Rick finds himself in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Here Rick learns many things. He learns how to hang glide; he learns about the endangered California condor. He learns about ” potters” who steal artifacts and sell them for profit, and will stop at nothing to keep from being discovered. But most importantly, he learns that sometimes, with a little help, sometimes, someone can get a 2nd chance.
The Maze has nothing in common with The Maze Runner, book or movie, but instead Hobbs has written a thoroughly realistic and believable story with interesting characters, a totally real setting, and fascinating information about raising condors and hang gliding. Rick starts off with a defensive and hesitant relationship with the naturalist, who it seems has some secrets of his own. But gradually, he develops a fierce loyalty. From his solo flights, he is able to identify the various surrounding areas in the canyons of the maze, so when Will and the things and people he has learned to care about are threatened, he is ready to risk all. Will it be enough?
An excellent, exciting story for junior or teen, girls or boys. * * * * *
The Maze is available at Amazon.ca and other fine bookstores.
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