4 out of 4 stars
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Code Name: Dodger by Eric Auxier is a novel about love, family and a boy with a desire for revenge. It tells the story of a streetwise, skateboard loving orphan, boy named Justice (a.k.a Justin) Reed. Justin lives at the North Brooklyn juvenile home. One day as he is out skateboarding with his friends, they notice a man watching them. It turns out that he is actually spying on Justin. That very day, Justin is picked out for possible adoption by a CIA agent named Bob Cheney. Suspected to know information for which his father was killed; Justin is now a target and a protected person. Motivated by his desire for revenge; he accepts to be used as bait to capture the enemy. When the plan fails, Bob is branded a possible enemy and Justin’s late father a traitor. Refusing to accept such news Justin has no choice but to go solo. Can the 14 year old boy find the ruthless enemy known as Pharaoh?
The story is filled with multiple interesting characters. It commences with Justin, his friends Randy and Doug, other orphans and Mrs. Kraumas the orphanage head. Other characters include Bob Cheney, people in his neighbourhood, his CIA superiors as well as other agents and many others. Justin’s love for his dad shines throughout the book. His father is his hero. With his father gone, he finds himself leaning towards Bob. Due to the nature of his work, Bob cannot admit to himself the place that Justin holds in his heart. However, he stands out as protective and strict father figure. I did wish that Bob’s heart was not quite guarded. Nevertheless, he seemed very real to me. Justin on the other hand irritated me when he pushed those that cared for him away. In his defense, he did seem a little given to loosing loved ones. Randy proves to be a loyal and protective friend.
The narrative is in the first person. Told from Justin’s point of view, one can easily identify him as a street kid. Whilst I am not used to reading slang, the style did fit Justin and his fellow orphans. Even as the book was an easy read, the format made it a little crowded. The story builds up quickly and is thrilling enough to keep one reading. I did find myself holding my breath in concern for some of the scenes.
What I liked most about the book was the aspect of family. Justin clearly had a sense that family was more than relation by blood. Another thing was Justin’s development from a teen whose desire is to seek revenge to one that counts the cost. He comes to the realization that his choices can affect him forever. What I least liked was the fact that Justin had access to a gun.
I noted very few errors in the book, thus I give it the rating 4 out of 4 stars. The book does contain a couple of derogatory words. Another touch of formatting will give it clearer paragraphs. Being a young adult novel, I would recommend it to teenagers as well as adults who like reading spy or mystery books.
Code Name: Dodger
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