What's the story with Akhil Vyas? At first, Becky is convinced that he's the weirdest person on earth when he shows up in her English class. He refuses to sit in a chair, stares at her with his dark eyes, and has skin covered in scars. But when her best friend Omar begins to befriend him, Becky's revulsion changes to fascination. Akhil reveals that the National Institute of Health is studying him, but he can't say why-until something happens that makes him swear Omar and Becky to secrecy. Suddenly Becky isn't sure what's more shocking-Akhil's secret, or the chilling reason why he must reveal it.
"Gr. 8^-11. At first Becky doesn't know what to make of Akhil Vyas, the new kid at her high school. Like her, he's an outsider; unlike her, he doesn't seem to care what his fellow students or even his teachers think of him. Things don't become much clearer when Becky discovers that the National Institute of Health is studying Akhil because he was raised by wolves in India. Most of the plot centers on an attempt by Becky, Akhil, and their friend Omar to stop a Columbine-like school attack by a disturbed neo-Nazi follower. Obviously, any novel that introduces a feral child into an otherwise "realistic" plot risks a plunge into implausibility, as is pretty much the case here. But lots of kids like melodramatic stories (in this case, complete with a tragic ending), and this one, told in Becky's first-person narrative, effectively captures the voice of an intelligent, insecure teenager. Todd Morning"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Exploring well-publicized social issues violence at high schools, cliques, white supremacist groups Carbone's (Stealing Freedom) novel juggles a number of themes, with mixed results. Becky, the 15-year-old narrator, initially shrinks from the new kid, Akhil, a heavily scarred, dark-skinned boy with a British accent who disturbs both his teachers and classmates. But Becky's best friend, Omar, is fascinated with Akhil, and soon Becky is, too especially after he confides that he is the subject of a top-secret study at the National Institutes of Health. Cementing the bond among the three is their outraged discovery of white supremacist propaganda belonging to Kyle, a repugnant upperclassman who, joyriding two years earlier, ran down Becky's younger brother and caused him irreparable spinal damage. Making use of Akhil's uncanny intelligence and breaking more than a few laws, the three get hold of Kyle's notebook and find his hit list, which includes Akhil (for the color of his skin), Omar (half-breed), Becky (race mixer) and even her brother (gimp). How can they convince the authorities that they have, as Akhil puts it, stumbled upon the plans for a massacre? The twist here is Akhil's secret: he was raised by wolves in India, and as a result has developed a wolf's keen senses. Kids intrigued by Julie of the Wolves and stories of wild children may enjoy this development; others may feel short-changed by the late emergence of so far-fetched a premise in an otherwise realistic book. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved