Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Review: This Is Not a Drill by Beck McDowell

This Is Not A Drill by Beck McDowell
Release Date: October 24, 2012
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Genre: Young Adult with serious situations

Two teens try to save a class of first-graders from a gun-wielding soldier suffering from PTSD

When high school seniors Emery and Jake are taken hostage in the classroom where they tutor, they must work together to calm both the terrified children and the gunman threatening them--a task made even more difficult by their recent break-up. Brian Stutts, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, uses deadly force when he's denied access to his son because of a custody battle. The children's fate is in the hands of the two teens, each recovering from great loss, who now must reestablish trust in a relationship damaged by betrayal. Told through Emery and Jake's alternating viewpoints, this gripping novel features characters teens will identify with and explores the often-hidden damages of war. 

Warning from the beginning.... this story deals with a situation that is probably everyone's worst nightmare...at least if you have children.  This is a serious situation where small, elementary school children are being held hostage by a gunman at school.  They have two teens, who just happen to be visiting their class that day, to help keep them safe and to try to figure a way out of the situation.

Let me say I loved Emery and Jake immediately.  You would think that in a situation like this, where the characters spend the entirety of the book in one room where they're not allowed to do much talking, that this book would be boring and we wouldn't be able to get to know the characters.  Not so with this story.  The author did an amazing job with flashbacks and internal memories in allowing us to get to know Emery and Jake very well.  It could have been boring to do this, but it wasn't.

So the characterization was surprisingly good, and I was rooting for them almost immediately.  I loved watching these two teens rally these kids together, and I loved seeing their protective instincts come out. They were both brave and selfless, and worked together to figure out how to help the kids in their charge.

You wouldn't think that with this type of setting and situation that the author would be able to fit in any romance at all, but shockingly, she did.  And it wasn't misplaced and didn't break up the story. It fit smoothly into the story and flowed perfectly.

Bottom line... I thought this book was brilliantly written, incredibly well plotted and prepared. The pacing was perfect, and I just really loved it.  This was a big win for me.  Great book.

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