I read this book on my recent holiday and it kept me enthralled, my eReader didn't leave my side and I was always itching to read a bit more to see what happened next.
At the start of the story Jayden is 11 and due to family problems is sleeping rough. One night he is given an opportunity to turn his life around from an unexpected source. Dubious at first, Jayden accepts and is soon settling into a new life, studying at a secret school where all the pupils are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Clearly there is a purpose behind the school, but what exactly is it?
This is a hard book to review simply because it's tough to give any idea of the story without spoiling it. And really this is a story I don't want to spoil for anyone.
Although aimed at young adults (particularly around 11, the same age as Jayden) as with all the best young adult fiction it's an excellent read for anyone.
The plot is really well handled; The journey of Jayden and his friends is one aspect, the purpose of the school another and the reader is kept on their toes by regular twists and turns. Some of these are totally unexpected, others are nicely flagged for the observant reader who will feel very pleased with themselves for having spotted the clue.
The characters are all clearly drawn and the descriptions are detailed enough to sketch them out out not laboured and allow enough space for the reader's imagination to add the finishing touches. All the main characters are very positive role models for young people and many will identify with them and hopefully appreciate how they develop. The writing moves at a really good pace and it is never slow and always grabs attention.
There are moments of humour - mostly around the student's antics either trying to break the rules or playing tricks on each other. Much darker threads are wound in with skill by Cope covering topics such as drug abuse, bullying and terrorism but these are never laboured and always dealt with sympathetically and optimistically. As a parent it is great to see these topics mentioned.
My 9-going-on-10 year old read this book and said it was 'great' and could he have 'more like that'. I don't think you could get a better recommendation.
Overall this is definitely a must read, not just for its target audience but anyone who wants to read a thoughtfully constructed, engaging and thrilling story. I will definitely be reading the sequel.
Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain is available from Smashwords and Amazon