This action-packed scifi thriller will appeal to fans of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider books.
15 year old Will Drake is taken to The Rig – an old oil rig that is now, in 2025, the world’s most secure juvenile prison. Will has escaped from three previous jails, and it’s not long before he starts looking for a way out of this one. But there is more to The Rig than just inmates, guards and cells – there is a secret underwater facility that dramatically changes everything.
In the well-written and well-paced opening section, Mr. Ducie spends some time getting all the pieces in place. Characters are introduced, and though not particularly well-developed are good versions of their types – nerdy friend, attractive girl, cruel guards, prison yard bullies, overconfident warden – and are from all around the world so there is some diversity including Will who is biracial (though fortunately they all speak English, bar one). Time is spent establishing the physical set up of the prison and the daily regime, building tension and giving a good foundation for the action to come.
And boy does it come. Written cinematically, the thrills, reveals and chases pile up as we find out what The Rig is really all about and dash towards the climax. Though well-plotted, the writing gets a little sloppy here, as the voice wavers between serious action and teen talk.
This feels like it should be a one-off with an open ending, but I’m assuming it will turn into a series. It would be nifty if Mr. Ducie was given time to craft a sequel, so that it could be as original and tight as The Rig.
Thanks to HMH and Edelweiss for the digital review copy.