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I, Q Review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright

By Roland Smith
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main Street
Chelsea, Michigan 48118

Picture this scene: it's bedtime and our family is at camp, huddled under blankets around a flashlight and my husband as he read us a mystery novel! The kids were mesmerized, and my husband and I were also anxious to see what would happen next. The book is called I, Q ($8.95) which is a play on words (or letters, actually) because the main character's name is Quest, but his nickname is Q.

I, Q is the first in a new series of spy novels for young adults written by Roland Smith. Think Tom Clancy at a young adult level, but without gratuitous violence, unsuitable language, or "adult situations" that are not appropriate for teens. Dr. Smith has a rich and varied background as a research biologist, zookeeper, and author of several children's books.

Q (13 years old) and his new stepsister, Angela (15 years old), join their newly married parents who have just embarked on a music tour. Things get tricky when the kids are swept into the world of international terrorism and espionage and have to learn to trust each other and themselves. A cast of interesting characters, including some old spooks, rounds out the story. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but suffice it to say that the story has some excellent twists and turns that will have your kids on the edge of their seats! I love spy novels, and I enjoyed I, Q as much as my 14-year-old son did. We were very impressed at how clean and mild the book was, making it very appropriate for teens, while still maintaining the delightful intrigue that makes it hard to put the book down. The story has the usual problem of the teens having to keep important information from their parents for their own protection, which as a mom always makes me cringe, although it was appropriate to the story and other responsible adults helped the children. We all also liked the use of first-person voice for most of the story, making it feel like we were in the main character's head. But the interspersed sections of third-person voice provided additional information the character was not privy to. It was also clever to set the story of secrets and intrigue, where spies and terrorists have to hide in the shadows, within a story of two newly famous musicians who are very much in the limelight--an interesting twist.

The company's website has some interesting information, including videos of a couple of magic tricks (related to the story) and a detective-style 13-page study guide written for teens to help them get the most out of the book. So, although we all enjoyed the book immensely, we have one huge pet peeve: the sequel doesn't come out until Spring 2009! How can they do that to us! I call dibs on the review for the sequel!

Product review by Dr. Anne Margaret Wright, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009