Book Title: Cloudburst (available here)
Authors: Wilbur Smith & Chris Wakling
Publication Date: March 2020
Most Suitable For: Upper KS2+
Reviewed By: Caroline Wood
Jack Courtney and his friends Amelia and Xander are in the Democractic Republic of Congo for a holiday, accompanying his parents who are there to lobby the government on environmental matters and safe mining. It’s a tricky topic for the Courtney family, as Jack’s uncle owns a string of mines in the region and is grooming Jack’s cousin Caleb to take over the family firm.
Jack and Caleb have never got on, but the friends end up going with him on a trip into the jungle to see gorillas in the wild. What should have been a risky but ultimately safe adventure rapidly unravels, and Jack and his friends are left to deal with a dreadful accident, a kidnapping and ultimately some very difficult questions about family loyalty.
The setting is particularly immersive, contrasting the luxurious tourist life with the harsh realities of the jungle along with a strong environmental message. I appreciated the way wildlife is portrayed; it’s unsentimental and expresses the view that nature is worthy of protection for its own sake, not because animals are cute.
A good solid start to a promising series, Cloudburst is a great first step from adventure stories to twisty thrillers and is particularly suitable for children around 9-12 who have previously enjoyed Jake Atlas and Alex Rider books.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Caroline for reviewing it.
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