But each of us had taken on the responsibility of protecting or avenging those few who had become dear to us. Willing to risk our lives to see justice done. We were all so different and yet so much the same. (Exposed, pg. 86)Three teens: Josie, Raven and Jace. Three injustices needing to be righted. One series. Retribution.
by Judith Graves
Orca Book Publishers
Although the three books in the series can be read in any order–I read Unleashed first, then Burned and Exposed–and my image shows the books in alphabetical order, I’d like to start with Judith Graves’ contribution to the series, Exposed. Exposed is Raven’s story. Raven, who has left the home of her meth-addicted parents, has found a new family working with other young people as an urban climber getting into high-end, secure car parkades to steal cars for Diesel. And climbing is a release for her.
From here all my worries seemed smaller, so small they could be tucked away in my pocket and forgotten, like empty candy wrappers that would someday just slip away unnoticed. (pg. 32)Raven anticipates leaving this life when she turns 16 in a few weeks, diligently going to school and secretly saving her money and purchasing a houseboat for herself, and, to that end, Diesel has her training a younger climber Supersize. But when Diesel sets up Supersize before he’s ready to lead a team and tragedy ensues, Raven is determined to get even with Diesel.
by Natasha Deen
Orca Book Publishers
While scouting out cars to steal, she meets Josie, the main character in Natasha Deen’s Burned. Jo has been on the streets for two years and has learned the way to survive is to trust no one, show no fear and that “hope is just another way to spell dead” (pg. 26). But, though Josie has found a way to make herself useful, scouting security leaks for a family grocer, helping stock shelves at a community kitchen, and painting art forgeries, she’s still looking for retribution against the woman responsible for the deaths of her mother and younger siblings. Josie is out to
Burn her with the same heat she used to set my life on fire, and the orange red flames that scorched the breath from my family will cauterize her soul. (pg. 3)Josie is out to prove this woman cop shot her family and another young woman, but she needs the help of ATM Guy whom she spots using his tech skills to steal money at the family grocer. When she approaches him to try to get evidence from the cop’s laptop, she learns that his name is Bentley and his brother is Jace, whom she refers to as Boxer Boy because of his physique, and so the third protagonist is introduced.
by Sigmund Brouwer
Orca Book Publishers
Jace, Sigmund Brouwer’s protagonist in Unleashed, leads a double life: one as a boxer slumming it at Billy’s gym, and one as the preppie, chess-playing son of disgustingly wealthy and emotionally-abusive Dr. Winchester Wyatt.
Life, to me, was a combination of chess and boxing. You had to think everything through a couple of moves ahead and also be prepared to pound hard and often. (pg. 107)Jace is determined to get something on his father, especially because of the horrific way he treats Jace’s tech-brilliant younger brother, Bentley, who was born with Laron syndrome which manifests as dwarfism. Though he enlists a private detective and then Raven and Josie’s help to learn of some scandal in Winchester’s medical background, Jace has major trust issues and has to find a way to determine whom he can expect to be forthcoming and cooperative without taking advantage of his wealth.
The stories in Retribution are complex and intricate and the plot and characters interlaced in sophisticated weaves. Writing the books must have been a complicated process for Judith Graves, Natasha Deen and Sigmund Brouwer. But, the three authors stepped up, pen or laptops in hand, and were able to create a coordinated story with multiple plotlines while keeping their own writing voices unique and distinct. That’s quite an accomplishment, especially for high-interest YA told in about 150 pages each. And, in the end, I believe that, though Raven, Jo and Jace are involved in less-than-legal schemes to get retribution, readers will admire their determination to seek justice.
I stopped thinking about my sorrows and focused on something else. Infinite possibilities. (Unleashed, pg. 160)I’m hopeful that Jo, Raven, Jace and Bentley will continue to be that irrepressible team that is “living in the shadows, dispensing their own kind of justice” (Unleashed, pg. 156) and I look forward to their next quests for retribution.
† † † † † † † †
Remember: Orca Book Publishers has a contest on until November 30, 2015 (see my post about it here). It's all about those infinite possibilities.