Reviewer: Katrina DeMan Source:
Zondervan Publishing House
Pages: 331 Industry
Telling the Truth Could Get Them Killed. Remaining Silent Could Be Worse.
When Cooper, Hiro, and Gordy witness a robbery that leaves a man in a coma, they find themselves tangled in a web of mystery and deceit that threatens their lives. After being seen by the criminals—who may also be cops—Cooper makes everyone promise never to reveal what they have seen. Telling the truth could kill them. But remaining silent means an innocent man takes the fall and a friend never receives justice. Is there ever a time to lie? And what happens when the truth is dangerous? The three friends, trapped in a code of silence, must face the consequences of choosing right or wrong when both options have their price.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I immediately cared for the three teen characters, Cooper, Gordy and Hiro. They are regular kids enjoying a regular life and sharing good times with a trusted adult, Frank, at a local hangout. After witnessing a robbery and beating, Cooper risks himself to protect Gordy and Hiro and is identified and threatened by the robbers. The boys decide to keep silent because they fear for the safety of Cooper and his family. Thus, the “Code of Silence” is set.
It seems like a wise plan but, immediately, lies must be told. They don’t like lying or how it makes them feel, but soon they are hiding the truth from parents, teachers and police. They begin to wonder if they can still trust each other, though the teenagers both protect and stand up for each other. One boy is especially concerned about what the lies are doing to their character and if personal safety is a reason to not tell the truth. Themes of loyalty and courage in friendship abound, all tested by the corrosiveness of lies.
Action is plentiful throughout the book: bike chases, bold moves, cover-ups and sting operations initiated by the kids, all keeping them just out of reach of the enemy. Parents should know that there is some sneaking out of the house, though not often because these kids seem to have a lot free time, are trusted, and have resources at their disposal.
In the end, facing the truth is almost more frightening than confronting the enemy. While most teens will enjoy the action and tension of the life-threatening tasks Cooper, Gordy and Hiro take on, parents can be assured that good relationships between families, friends and community abound. “Code of Silence” is a tense tale with real consequences and a nice heart. There is some promise at the end for another adventure and I want to read it.
Content Description: Sex: None Language: No strong language; main character challenges a video action character to take another step, saying, “Come on, you big moron;” an adult characterizes the direction someone is taking as “hellbent.” Violence: Book opens with a teen playing a combat video game, another wishing he could best the “leering opponent” that way, too; teen characters trapped under a counter and reflected in store-front windows during a violent robbery where another character is attacked, thought dead; character carries a loaded gun but doesn’t use it though willingness to kill is boasted; a knife is wielded but no one is cut; blood is spilled and serious injury occurs from a beating; teen runs for life; teen on bike is hit by car, is disoriented and scraped but not seriously injured; teen on a bike is chased by a truck; an intruder tries to get into a house when a teen is home alone; two teens are locked in a freezer and shot at; general and specific mob references and action throughout. Drugs: None Nudity: None Other: Repeated lying, hiding of truth; references to threatening mob activity; teens misuse trusted relationships, make independent financial decisions.