From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up—In this high-altitude adventure, 14-year-old Peak Marcello's passion for climbing is clearly in the genes, but when he is arrested for scaling tall buildings, his mom and stepdad make a deal with the judge to ship him out of the country to live with her ex-husband and squelch the media attention that might inspire "Spider Boy" copycats. The teen's father, Josh, and his Himalayan expedition company are preparing teams to climb Mount Everest and suddenly Peak is faced with the possibility of becoming the youngest climber to reach the summit. Excited about the adventure, he learns that Josh may have less-than-fatherly motives involving publicity and financial gain for his company, at the expense of his paying customers. Peak is handed off to his father's head Sherpa for training and altitude acclimation with a Nepalese boy his own age, named Sun-jo. At the same time, a media crew gathers at base camp to witness the climb, and an overzealous Chinese police captain doggedly searches for passport violations and underage climbers. Facts about Mount Everest, base camps, and the dangers of climbing are plentiful, depicting an international culture made up of individuals who are often self-absorbed and indifferent to the Tibetan Sherpas, who risk their lives for them. Peak's empathy for Sun-jo helps him make a critical decision as they near the summit, revealing his emotional growth and maturity. A well-crafted plot and exotic setting give the novel great appeal to survival adventure fans.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
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*Starred Review* Fourteen-year-old New Yorker Peak ("It could have been worse. My parents could have named me Glacier, or Abyss, or Crampon.") Marcello hones his climbing skills by scaling skyscrapers. After Peak is caught climbing the Woolworth Building, an angry judge gives him probation, with an understanding that Peak will leave New York and live with his famous mountaineer father in Thailand. Peak soon learns, however, that his father has other plans for him; he hopes that Peak will become the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest. Peak is whisked off to Tibet and finds himself in the complex world of an Everest base camp, where large amounts of money are at stake and climbing operations offer people an often-deadly shot at the summit. This is a thrilling, multifaceted adventure story. Smith includes plenty of mountaineering facts told in vivid detail (particularly creepy is his description of the frozen corpses that litter the mountain). But he also explores other issues, such as the selfishness that nearly always accompanies the intensely single-minded. A winner at every level. For more mountaineering adventures, suggest Edward Meyers' Climb or Die
(1994) and Michael Dahl's The Viking Claw
(2001), both for a slightly younger audience. Todd MorningCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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