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The Pack Hardcover – April 14, 2003
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6-9-Becky, 15, is an overweight misfit at high school and Omar, her friend, is of mixed-race parentage. Into their lives comes a Hindu boy, Akhil Vyas, who has scars on his body, sits on the classroom floor, and simply walks out when something upsets him. Furthermore, he reveals that he is being studied at the National Institutes of Health, but he won't say why (until nearly the close of the book). As Becky and Omar get to know Akhil and form a bond with him, they are exposed to an older student's neo-Nazi ideas and hatred, and gradually realize that he may be planning a dramatic act of violence at school. From this point the story builds to an exciting and devastating climax. While Akhil's character is not entirely believable, this is a highly entertaining story. Becky and Omar are nicely developed characters, although Kyle is one-dimensional and an altogether evil presence. Akhil's early years, which have brought him to the NIH study, are described in such a way that readers will want to suspend disbelief. His ethic has been molded on that of a wild wolf pack, and there is much wolf lore integrated into the plot. An author's note elaborates on wolves and the inspiration for Akhil. Several Web sites dealing with school violence are also appended. This novel is an out-and-out suspense thriller with a twist; it should definitely appeal to reluctant readers.
Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 8-11. At first Becky doesn't know what to make of Akhil Vyas, the new kid at her high school. Like her, he's an outsider; unlike her, he doesn't seem to care what his fellow students or even his teachers think of him. Things don't become much clearer when Becky discovers that the National Institute of Health is studying Akhil because he was raised by wolves in India. Most of the plot centers on an attempt by Becky, Akhil, and their friend Omar to stop a Columbine-like school attack by a disturbed neo-Nazi follower. Obviously, any novel that introduces a feral child into an otherwise "realistic" plot risks a plunge into implausibility, as is pretty much the case here. But lots of kids like melodramatic stories (in this case, complete with a tragic ending), and this one, told in Becky's first-person narrative, effectively captures the voice of an intelligent, insecure teenager. Todd Morning
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The ending is pretty sad because Akhil gets killed in a bomb that detonated in their school.