3 out of 4 stars
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Written for teens and young adults, I found the overarching idea in Dead Snupe by Spikes Donovan to be a thrilling concept. In short, this is about a dystopian future in which the government essentially kidnaps children who have "committed crimes" in order to exploit them. Such children are taken to a secret government prison called "Long Wait." On the outside, no one knows Long Wait even exists. Children who have been taken there are proclaimed dead or missing to the world. Once inside Long Wait, children are educated and given work assignments. Most of the Long Wait children have either unwittingly committed "treason" or evidenced themselves as geniuses.
Told in first person narrative, the speaker throughout the book is a child who has been assigned the position of head chef. His job is managing the cafeteria. The chef has learned to use his job to great advantage, often fulfilling special food requests in exchange for favors or information. When the chef meets April, he uses his influence to help her avoid being bullied. Another child, Bobby Griffin, was kidnapped due to genius programming abilities. Once at Long Wait, Bobby is put to work on a top secret government project.
This is the story of four children (Bobby, the chef, April, and a boy named Elton) trying to survive in an environment of extreme government control. Key survival tools include making allies, knowing what to say or not say to whom, and covering for others when necessary. An urgency creeps into the story line when the children discover what really happens when children reach the magic age of 30 and disappear. If they wish to avoid an undesirable fate, they must find a way of escape.
Dead Snupe is a fresh concept among existing dystopian literature. I found the plot intriguing and the pace somewhat fast. Character development goes beyond what is expected in a novella. Although the writing style is fairly easy to read, the constant starting of sentences with prepositions and frequent use of fragments was disturbing to me personally. Even when writing for a younger audience, I feel that the best writing will still follow standard grammatical rules.
Due to a strong plot and strong characters, I would give Dead Snupe a top rating of 4 stars, but I am reducing the overall rating to 3 out of 4 stars because of the writing style. Although this is advertised on Amazon as being for a teen and young adult audience, I feel that it would be most enjoyed by younger teens. I would be confident to recommend this book to that age group.
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