From School Library Journal
Grade 7–10—Charlie West lived the life of an ordinary teenager—good student, black belt in karate, motivated—until he wakes up strapped in a chair next to a table of blood-splattered instruments of torture. He manages to escape from his unknown captors only to discover that an entire year has passed, of which he remembers nothing. Finding himself pursued by those he perceived as the "good guys," he must run to save himself and to discover the truth. Yet when Charlie learns of a plot to assassinate a government official, he risks all to save a stranger. This first book in the series may lack cohesiveness, but it remains a compelling thriller. The first half unfolds in painstaking, if not excruciating, detail, while the second half speeds to an ending with no real resolution. Readers presumably will have to hope that the sequel will explain more fully this tightly wound mystery. Klavan spends a good deal of time aptly portraying Charlie and other key figures, but some patriotic characters may come across as overzealous and off-putting.—Tara Kehoe, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ
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Charlie is a squeaky-clean high-schooler who gets good grades, dreams about joining the Air Force, and loves practicing his karate—and it’s this last skill that comes in especially handy when he wakes up tied to a chair next to a tableau of torture instruments. In an attempt to understand how he landed in such dire straits, he flashes back to the last thing he remembers: a seemingly typical day at school. So begins the fantastic first half of this post-9/11 thriller in which each bit of recovered memory directly informs how Charlie deals with his mysterious captors. The excitement plateaus once Charlie escapes and realizes that he’s wanted by more than just a band of terrorists, but the chase scenes, gunfire, and fistfights never let up. The rah-rah patriotism may put off some readers, particularly given Charlie’s apparent unwillingness to moderate his black-and-white views. On the other hand, this is just the first book in the Homelanders series, so there is still plenty of time for Charlie to develop shades of gray. Grades 8-11. --Daniel Kraus