Sunday, July 10, 2011

I, Q by Roland Smith - book review by Robert Steven Mack

The world is a complicated and busy place to call home, and people go through their everyday lives with the very human want to succeed and have everything go the best they can possibly be; their hopes, dreams and wants all corresponding with precise precision. Each man, woman and child on this earth has the rightfully compelling human nature to fight for what they believe in. But with 5 billion people in the world and each person fighting for what they want, things can get ugly and sometimes lead to wars and decades-long spats over nothing. This is why we have politicians, judges, police officers, and leaders to help guide the people and keep peace. Sometimes however, leaders put their own interests ahead of the interests of the societies, often known as dictatorships; sometimes different groups of people don’t trust each other and fight. Lawmakers are an example of different groups fighting each other for what they believe is for the good of the community, or they are just using there wits to survive. At times societies grow so incredibly suspicious of one another that they choose people to spy on their neighbors in order to collect data to use against their “enemy”. Although this operating system goes back to the dawn of mankind, today we call it espionage.

“I,Q” by Roland Smith is a juvenile international espionage book that deals with such organizations as the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Israel Mossad, and the US Secret Service. 13 year old Quest’s ( nicknamed Q for short) newly-wed mom, Blaze, and her music-making husband, Roger, have made a hit with their new group, “Match” and are going on tour for the rest of the year and have taken Q and Roger’s 15 year old daughter Angela along for the ride. When the trailer they are traveling in suddenly brakes down, they meet up with a mysterious old roadie (those who travel with bands who are there for tech support) by the name of Tyrone Boone who used to travel with Blaze’s old band. Quest and Angela soon discover, however, that Tyrone Boone is not only an ancient roadie but a spy who recruits Quest and Angela for a mission revolving mostly around Angela’s long-presumed dead mother Malak, in possible connection to a ghostly terrorist organization. Malak was a dedicated secret agent who was thought to have died in the line of duty. Their mission eventually leads them to the White House where Book 1 ends and book two begins.

The main characters begin with Quest, a bright, responsible teenager who can be sarcastic and clever and is a talented amateur magician. He also happens to love meat. Angela has fond but painful memories of her mother, is trained in takewondo and as a spy. She is meek and a little timid, and wears sunglasses wherever she goes and carries around a heavy sack with her. She is also a vegetarian. An interesting character dynamic between Quest and Angela is that Quest, bright and intelligent as he is, is quite sloppy and disorganized, while Angela is quite neat, tidy and realistic. Angela also must often push Quest to get his homework done ahead of time. Other characters include Tyrone Boone, who is an ancient roadie and former CIA agent who heads a private organization called SOS and loves James Bond novels. Blaze is Q’s caring mother who gave up her career for Quest. Malak is Angela’s mother who has been presumed dead for many years; Eben is an agent working for the Israel Mossad; X-Ray is a technology geek of the SOS; and Buddy T., Match’s fussy but rude manager, can wheel and deal his way around anything.

One of the most important conflicts in the book is Angela dealing with the thought that her mother Malak, a former CIA agent, is either dead or a terrorist. Throughout the book the characters are focused on understanding the potential mystery surrounding Malak whose ghost seems to be doing her work for her. This may lead SOS to a possible link to a mysterious “ghost” terrorist ring that SOS has been trying to track for some time now, without luck. The overall conflict is layered by Angela’s own personal conflict in discovering that there is a 50/50 chance that her mother is still alive. This causes Angela to put a personal matter above her duty and her safety. In the climax of the book, Angela, Q, and Malak meet face to face in a heart wrenching reunion that can only remind the young spies that the call of duty won’t wait long.

The main theme of the story would be the overall dynamic complexity of a modern day society divided by matters of trust, jealousy, loyalty, religion and all the other forces that tend to divide an otherwise decent society into diplomatic chaos. In the age of the computer revolution, new technical advances that stir the mind can either be helpful or deadly, especially if both sides have about an equal amount of ammunition. Sometimes it is hard to tell who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, who do I trust? Who can I depend on? Who are my friends? These are the kinds of questions that the main characters of the book wrestle with.

Many themes of the book touch base with my own personal interests and life, and the main character Quest and I seem to share some similar personality characteristics and habits! When I was in third grade my mother put her career aside for the time being in order to home school me, as did Q’s mother Blaze. I, too, enjoyed going places and doing new things. Though not quite as extravagant as this story, I also love the films of James Bond, even though I have not yet had the pleasure of enjoying one of the Ian Fleming novels. Espionage fascinates me and I love a good spy thriller!

Copyright 2011 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)

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