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Review: Swindle

It seems like I've been posting a lot of negative stuff lately. I'm a naturally cranky, opinionated person, but there's lots of things I enjoy. I should report on them too.

I recently reviewed the worst juvie novel I've ever read—the "banned book" The Transall Saga. Today I have the happier task of reviewing a well-written and intriguing novel intended for a slightly younger age group. Gordon Korman's Swindle came to my attention today when my son brought it home from the school Book Fair, where apparently every kid in school bought a copy. I'm always suspicious of these sudden hits, but I read a couple of chapters of Swindle this morning.

I'm hooked…

Swindle is the story of a young kid with a genius for planning who is defrauded, and must steal to recover what is his.

The story features a cast of characters that feels like those in a Carl Hiassen novel; eccentric misfits with distinct but barely plausible personalities. Indeed, for a novel centered around a bunch of young kids in a small town, featuring entirely kid-friendly content, and written to about a fourth-grade reading level, Swindle feels strangely adult. I suspect this is part of its appeal.

The plot is well-thought-out, which is unusual and welcome in this class of book. The characterization is great, and the description is adequate. The book is a bit dialogue-driven, as if it is begging to be turned into a movie script, but the dialogue is fairly well-written and advances the story.

I found it easy to empathise with the characters, and liked the plot. A school librarian who also found this book through her Book Fair seems to agree.

This is probably not a book for kids above 14 or so; they might be bored. But for younger kids, I can heartily recommend Swindle. Fob

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