Book Review: Flight #116 Is Down

August 8, 2010

[Patrick] tried to be glad that so few local lives were in danger, but deep down he was hoping for a really good catastrophe.

1161In Flight #116 Is Down by Caroline B. Cooney, Patrick gets his wish for a catastrophe when a plane crashes on classmate Heidi’s property. It takes the effort of the whole town and surrounding areas to help with the rescue.

What I Liked

– The book reads like a movie. I could see it in my head with the “cut to”s and the “fade in”s and “fade out”s. [I should clarify that it’s not written as a script; I just imagined it as a movie as I was reading.] All of the dialogue felt pretty authentic, and I could imagine seeing it all play out.

– There are several players all with different motivations and personal dramas. The focus on the different characters makes the vignettes very effective and moving because you want to see how each little story gets resolved.

– Even though there are a lot of people, the narrative doesn’t feel bogged down. Everything moves along fast, and there’s so much going on that it feels/becomes intentional to lose the thread of certain people/situations.

– The book is a love letter to emergency workers, community, and teenagers. I especially love how even the most ineffectual seeming people (like Heidi) find a purpose and a sense of pride.

– There’s definitely a focus on the fact that there are more positive/caring teens than selfish and self-centered ones.

What I Didn’t Like

– Even though the characters’ motivations and drives are clear, it’s hard to really get to know any of them because of the pace. So even though the story is interesting, it’s also a little dry.

In conclusion: This book would be awesome for reluctant readers. And people who aren’t really afraid of flying (I actually read it on the plane). The action moves everything along, but it is kind of heavy on the carnage.

YA Challenge: 22/75

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