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Author: Will Hobbs

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Publisher: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Dylan Sands is a city boy who loves the outdoors. When he gets the chance to ride the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park with his Uncle and cousin in Texas, he jumps at the chance. By the time he gets to Rio Bravo, their small town, plans have changed. His Uncle is on a river job in Alaska, leaving Dylan with his cousin Rio.

Together, the boys decide "let's do this." They planned carefully for everything - except the Mexican drug lord and the young companion he's kidnapped. With a gun to their heads, a hurricane, and unfamiliar rapids ahead, how will they make it out alive? This is a fast-paced story with heavy overtones of the realities of life on a border town..

Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 11 and up

Reading Level: 5.1

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: To me, the blurb on the back cover said "page turner." Unfortunately, the story itself fell flat. The initial impression of Dylan's ncle is that he is not stable / good provider. So when Dylan arrives in Texas and Uncle Alan is gone, I thought this was a scam and that he had ulterior motives. It left me uncomfortable and I disnegaged from the characters the rest of the way.

Pros: Adventure and mystery lovers will enjoy this combination of an action-packed river trip and the case of "who's the boy?"

Cons: If your reader tends to make dangerous choices, then you may want to read this together. The boys make some irresponsible decisions and while there is a happy ending here, that isn't always real life.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This book will appeal to readers who like fast-paced adventures, but it may not be a keeper for a personal library.


Educational Themes: This would be a good choice for a family read aloud or boys book club. There is plenty to discuss about choices, consequences, and the "real world" that many kids don't know about.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: fiction - adventure, mystery, middle grade series

Date(s) Reviewed: April 2013

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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