What does it feel like to leap off a cliff and soar in a hang glider? To raise fledgling condors and release them into the wild? To outwit the sinister local yahoos who want to kill the giant, endangered birds? To be pursued at night in the red-rock moonscape of Utah's canyon country? The Maze
combines all these enticing elements in a strong coming-of-age novel steeped in respect and concern for nature that is a characteristic of award-winning author Will Hobbs
With a sure hand for pacing and suspense, Hobbs tells the story of Rick Walker, an angry young runaway escaping foster homes and detention centers. Rick takes refuge in the wilderness camp of an eccentric naturalist, Lon Peregrino, who teaches the teen rebel how to care for the California condors under his care. Rick's daring and initiative grow under Lon's guidance as he masters driving a truck over hair-raising mountain roads and hovering over the maze of canyons on the wings of a hang-glider. But is his newfound manhood enough to confront the forces that want the condors dead? And who will help him sort out the maze of his life when the authorities catch up with him? Younger readers graduating from Gary Paulsen's survival stories will be delighted to discover this adventure writer, while older fans of Hobbs's Downriver and other wilderness adventures are likely to deem The Maze one of his best. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell
From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-Fourteen-year-old Rick Walker feels that his life is a maze. He's been bounced around from one foster family to another and is sent to a detention center for hard-core juvenile offenders after committing a petty offense. After he reports corruption at the facility, the boy is forced to flee for his life and ends up in an isolated part of Utah's canyon country, near an area called the Maze. Here he forms a friendship with Lon, a biologist who is trying to reintroduce condors into the wild. The two work together, observing and assisting the birds, and Lon teaches Rick to hang glide. When they run afoul of a pair of nasty antigovernment types who are hiding a cache of weapons in the area, their lives are placed in danger. Certain elements of the plot are pretty conventional, appearing in countless young adult novels (troubled teen runs away and finds redemption with wise friend in a remote area). What sets this book apart is the inclusion of fascinating details about the condors and hang gliding, especially the action-packed description of Rick's first solo flight above the canyons in the face of an approaching thunderstorm. Many young readers will find this an adventure story that they can't put down.Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL
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