From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Parkour is a philosophy and an athletic endeavor that entails moving through a space as efficiently as possible; this usually requires vaulting over fences, running up walls, and leaping over naturally occurring obstacles. Danny, 16, is a parkour devotee trying to make it on his own in London as a freelance IT tech when members of the Knights of Akonio Dolo forcefully request that he use his hacking skills to help them recover a recently discovered clue that will lead them to two million mithquals of gold bars stolen from a temple in Timbuktu in the 14th century. Danny refuses to help the treasure hunters, but hacks on his own. When they learn that he has the clue, an international race is on, and Danny must use all of his skills to stay ahead of the game. The story is packed with chase scenes that imply a great deal of physically daring movement, "Kong, kong, underpass, swan. Double kong, underpass, kash vault, kong," but the terms mean nothing to parkour neophytes and therefore lack intensity. The clue takes Danny and his pal Omar to the Dogon region of Mali. The detailed description of the area and culture is the highlight of the book; unfortunately, respect for the culture is undermined by Danny's decision to crawl through a Dogon burial cave and desecrate the bodies inside in his haste to reach the gold. Greed leading to poor decisions is a theme throughout the book. While the story is far-fetched, it has enough action to satisfy avid adventure readers and teens interested in parkour.-Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Davies delivers a satisfying mix of history, exotic locales, computer hacking, and parkour racing in this well-constructed adventure story. Two London teens, Danny and Omar, are connected to a 17-year-old boy in fourteenth-century Timbuktu through a doodle Danny discovers on a manuscript he has scanned. Turns out, the long-ago student stole a fortune in gold, hid it in a secret chamber under a mosque, and left a map to the treasure behind. Danny, a hacker for good causes, leads the quest to follow clues to the treasure. A large part of the fascination and energy of this book comes from Danny and Omar’s mode of travel—parkour, the art of traveling quickly around urban obstacles, using leaps, rolls, and purposeful falls. Parkour becomes a wonderfully apt metaphor for the way Danny and Omar find their way through a villain- and obstacle-rich course. Reminiscent of Nick Hornby’s Slam (2007), in which the teen hero skateboards, and Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief series as well as his latest, The Red Pyramid (2010). Grades 7-10. --Connie Fletcher
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