4 out of 4 stars
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Jihadi Hijacking by Eric Auxier is a young adult novel about love, family, flying and terrorism. It is the third book in the Code name: Dodger series. It can also be read as a standalone book. Once more the story follows teen orphan Justin Reed on another adventure. Now legally adopted by former CIA agent Bob Cheney, Justin has settled down, and is doing well in school. Never one to stand by and watch as a physically challenged fellow freshman is bullied, Justin gets into a fight. Despite being a hero for the underdog, Justin gets suspended. Infuriated by Justin’s knack for getting into trouble, Bob decides to go with him on his next trip to Israel. What should be a father and son bonding trip, turns out to be a plane hijacking. Can Justin foil the hijackers’ plans and save the lives of the passengers on board the plane?
Filled with multiple interesting characters, the story does not fail to thrill. Justin is head strong, daring and noble. Unable to count the cost, he tends to be a lone ranger. Bob whilst being the strict adoptive father is able to read Justin like a book. In contrast he doesn’t see himself as one to save the world alone. For him, Justin comes first before all others. I like Justin’s caring attitude. While I actually always see Justin’s point at first, I have to concur with Bob when it comes to thinking like a parent. Lufti is a young hijacker, brainwashed to believe that a jihad is other than an inner struggle. His love for Najla blinds him to the truth. No nonsense ITA-Israeli agent, Yuri is heavy on detail and stringent on execution. In spite of being Bob’s counterpart, he is very suspicious of him.
The narrative is in the first person told from Justin’s point of view. Compared to the first book, Justin uses less slang. The book is an easy read and well formatted. The story builds up quickly though it slows down towards the end. I quite expected a hyped up finishing. The sober one was befitting nonetheless.
What I liked most about the book was the aspect of family. I like Bob’s development as a father and his concern for Justin. His soul is so knit to the lad that he would die if he lost him. I also liked the teaching on what a Jihad is. Learning that the greater jihad is not about the killing of infidels, but about dealing with ones inner struggle was helpful. It is sad how religious teachings when met with extremism can be so distorted. Lufti’s development also is rewarding. The scales fall off his eyes and he begins to see all men as brothers. The only thing I didn’t like was that I became sad when Justin was sad. It was hard to shake off the sadness. I should think that Auxier made him a very relatable character.
I noted very few errors in the book, thus I give it the rating of 4 out of 4 stars. Being a young adult novel, I would recommend it to teenagers as well as adults that like reading spy mystery stories. It would also suit those that have an interest in flying planes.
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