Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.
When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the director will not reassign her.
A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.
Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “Last Chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.
When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.
Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.
Gary Rodriguez is president of LeaderMetrix Inc., a consulting company that specializes in senior-level executive coaching, organizational development and conflict resolution. He is the author of the new adventure novel Escape through the Wilderness scheduled for release in June 2014.
His first book Purpose-Centered Public Speaking was an instant hit and recently republished by Tate Publishing.
His extensive resume includes eighteen years as an executive in the radio business where he spent several years as one of the original managers of Infinity Broadcasting. He was twice nominated as medium market manager of the year by the Bobby Poe report, a national media publication.
For over thirty-five years, Gary has spoken in public both nationally and internationally. Gary’s resume includes a season in the U.S. Army where he was highly decorated as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Army’s history at age 18 years. He was also awarded the Silver Star (the nation’s third highest award for valor) while serving in Viet Nam.
Escape through The Wilderness is an adventure novel suitable for middle school readers. Its main characters, 4 teenagers at an Adventure camp, are challenged by extreme conditions, injuries and dangerous situations. Survival is the main goal, but the teens learn teamwork along the way. There is also a character that lives her faith and makes a big impression on the other three.
I found the book a bit slow at first as the author attempted to establish the characters’ personalities and motivations. The legend of the monster Vexel is introduced during a night time camp fire — a foreshadowing of what is to come. But as soon as the 4 teens are thrown into peril, the action ramps up. Their encounters with wild animals and a lone hunter seem a bit hard to believe, but I think kids ages 12-14, will enjoy the survival skills employed by the characters, their independent actions and their determination to survive. There is also a lot to think about in the way the characters grow emotionally.
Audience: kids 12-14.
(Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)