Friday, October 31, 2014

Peak by Roland Smith

As far as names go, you have to admit that Peak is an unusual one. On the bright side, he knows his name could be worse. His mountain climbing-obsessed parents could have named him Crampon or something. But Peak Marcello inherited his parents’ obsession, so maybe it’s the perfect name for him, after all.

The only problem with this is that Peak lives in New York City, and there aren’t a lot of mountains to climb there. Which is why Peak gets his kicks climbing skyscrapers. From the outside. At the age of 14, Peak has already successfully scaled five skyscrapers. He’s in the middle of climbing his sixth when things go unexpectedly wrong: it’s so cold outside that Peak’s face gets stuck to the outside of the building, witnesses spot him, and Peak is arrested.

He’s facing a stint in juvie when his world-famous father comes to his rescue, whisking Peak away to Asia—and adventure. Peak will even get to join his father’s expedition up Mt. Everest. At first, Peak is excited. If he makes it to the summit, he’d be the youngest person to successfully climb the highest mountain on earth. (Assuming he ascends before Sun-jo, a young Sherpa the same age as Peak, who is also part of the expedition.) However, Peak quickly discovers just how dangerous Everest is. Pretty soon, it’s not a question of “Can he make it to the top?” but “Can he survive?”

If you're in the mood for an adventure set in a region rarely utilized in YA fiction, I highly recommend Roland Smith's Peak. It's a fast read, with danger and intrigue and a bit of coming-of-age questioning of things to make the story even more interesting.

Also, yes, Peak is extremely privileged that his family can keep him out of juvenile detention. However, expeditions to Mt. Everest are not cheap, so this privilege makes sense in terms of the plot.

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