Review Blog

May 26 2011

Circle of Fire by S. M. Hall

cover image

Maya Brown Missions. Francis Lincoln Children's Books, 2011.
(Age 11+) Fifteen year old Maya Brown is living with her grandmother because a threat has been made by a terrorist group to kidnap her. Pam, her mother, is a British security chief and is obviously too close to the truth about planned attacks. However, in a bizarre twist, it is Pam who is kidnapped and Maya decides to rescue her.
This quick moving story delivers 'mystery, intrigue and danger', as promised on the cover. Along the way it briefly introduces other themes.Maya, we find, has been adopted after terrorists had killed her entire family in Kosovo, for being Muslim.  Ironically now she is chasing a Muslim extremist group and we learn some of their traditions and views along the way. Jamila, a teenage girl whom Maya befriends wants to be a doctor but her father declares: 'she doesn't need a career to get married. Her husband will provide.' The causes of terrorism and race conflict are touched upon.
Having a female role model in an adventure or crime story should appeal to both boys and girls alike. This book is a fast, easy read aimed at young adults from 11+. It is the fifth novel from Sylvia Hall, who uses her teaching background to good effect in using appropriate language and content. It lacks a little realism and depth but meets its target audience. Circle of Fire will appeal to readers who like Robert Muchamore and Anthony Horowitz books.
The book also includes the first chapter of the sequel, Breaking the circle, which will be released in early 2012.
Kay Haarsma (Salisbury East HS)

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