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The Lab Hardcover – November 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up—In a time far into the future in a city isolated from the rest of the world, ChaoSonic controls all of the residents. But, there is one group that refuses to stay under its thumb—the Deck. It has a secret weapon in the fight against the enemy—Agent Six of Hearts. He is like no other human ever seen; in fact, he isn't totally human. Created through insidious and illegal experiments by the Lab, a division of ChaoSonic, he is a clone made up of human DNA, cheetah muscle, bloodhound nose, shark skin, elephant brain, and peregrine bones and eyes. He's the best agent ever to work for the Deck, helping to thwart the organization that created him 16 years earlier. He escaped the Lab when he was a baby and has stayed out of sight ever since. Only his boss, the King of Hearts, knows his secret. Then he is captured by ChaoSonic operatives. Yet, one of them is different from the rest. In Kyntak, Six sees another boy whose past is the same as his own. Can he trust him? Can the experimentation, torture, and cloning at the Lab ever be stopped? Fans of Anthony Horowitz's "Alex Rider" (Philomel) or James Patterson's "Maximum Ride" (Little, Brown) series will be hooked on this novel. An action-packed, suspense-filled story.—Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Even though it was written when the author was in high school, this action-packed page-turner features steady pacing, taut prose, and even a little character development. In a polluted world reduced to a single walled island of nine billion people, teenage Agent Six of Hearts belongs to a secret organization called The Deck that battles the excesses of ChaoSonic, the corporation that controls everything. The product of a mysterious laboratory where bird, shark, and even plant genes were added to his DNA, Agent Six has superhuman abilities and considers himself a machine—until, that is, he meets a laughing, reckless fellow experiment with similar powers who prods him into accepting his humanity. This personal progress is accomplished amidst a barrage of video game–style spy stuff, battles, rescues, car chases, explosions, escapes, and surprisingly well-oiled wheels within wheels. A strong start; stay tuned for sequels. Grades 5-8. --John Peters
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Top customer reviews
The Lab starts with a dramatic action scene and continues to be action packed until the very last page. There are seriously very few pages in this novel that don't include a fight scene, chase scene, or danger. All this makes for an undoubtedly exciting and edge-of-your-seat suspense filled story that is quite difficult to put down. As with many purely action novels, the book starts to break down with characterization. Protagonist Six is superhuman, and unfortunately, a cold and distant personality results from it. Six's inability to relate to the normal humans around him makes him almost inhuman and inaccessible to the reader. Heath does attempt to develop Six's character, but it's a little sloppy, especially at first. Six's questioning of this identity, origins, and their significance is awkward and out of place amidst the nearly constant danger Six is usually immersed in. Since this novel is primarily action based, this isn't a big deal since the plot is more than enough to keep the reader interested and satisfied.
The Lab will be enjoyed by fans of other futuristic action packed novels such as Skinned by Robin Wasserman, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Unwind by Neal Shusterman. I can't wait to check out the sure to be exciting sequel, Remote Control.
At first, the story drug a little. I wasn't entirely taken in until the action truly picked up and Agent Six realized he was being followed. The chase scene involving running, malls, parking garages and destroyed cars was well written and fast-paced. I was right there with Six.
Towards the latter half of the book, I could not put it down. The action did not cease and Six only became a deeper and more intense character.
I subsequently looked on here for additional books, hoping it was a series, but couldn't find any. I did a Google search on him and found his Australian website. This is the first book in a series of FOUR. His fourth comes out this fall in Australia. I found out that Scholastic has picked up the remainder of the series and will be releasing them over the next few years here in the States. Fantastic!
I would recommend 2 things:
1. Read this book.
2. Check out the guy's website. There are some short stories and details of his other series. Yes, an entire other series based on a brilliant teenaged girl who pulls off high-stakes heists.
I love that I have found a new and engaging writer. Thank you, Scholastic!
Positives: Creative names of characters basing them on a deck of cards. Some parts of the novel were engrossing, but these were too few for my liking.
Negatives of novel: First chapter didn't captivate me...I persevered and in some respects I am glad that I did...Did the novel offer any meaningful insights about life or even our possible futures? Maybe. Some parts were overly descriptive and I don't believe there was enough in the 318 or so pages to engross the reader in the story. More depth is needed please Jack.
I rate this novel a 3/5 because it was a good book and it poses some interesting ethical questions regarding cloning, robotics and our future.