Saturday, August 23, 2008

Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci

It was very frustrating reading this latest novel by Plum-Ucci. It is a real page-turner, but unfortunately, I couldn't devote all my time to reading it. Be prepared to only want to read when you pick up Streams of Babel. Set in New Jersey in 2002, it is the frightening, but all too plausible circumstance of bio- terrorism that is at its center. Cora Holman's mother, Aleese, has suffered a debilitating injury, is addicted to morphine, and has died of an overdose. But did she really? The autopsy indicates it really was a brain aneurysm. How coincidental is it that the mother of one of the paramedics responding to the emergency call is also sick with the flu and exhibits the same symptoms as Cora's mother. Determined to ward off the bug, Mrs. Ederman downs an extraordinary amount of water. It is to no avail and she also succumbs. Results of the autopsy - brain aneurysm. But how much does the water she and Cora's mother drank have to d0 with their deaths?

The novel is told in alternating voices of Cora Holman, Scott and Owen Ederman, Rain Steckman whose father is head of USIC (US Intelligence Coalition), Shazhad Hamdani, a young Pakistani who is v-spying for the USIC, and
Tyler Ping, a young Korean who eats pills and hacks computers. Shazhad has intercepted chatter about Red Vinegar and the intent to kill a significant number of people in Colony One. But will he be able to get information to the U.S. officials quickly enough to save the lives of Rain, Cora, and Owen?

The friendship and interaction among the teens is natural and believable. The idea of water supplies being targets for terrorists is more than frightening and credibly portrayed. As the terrorists are exposed the reader has a sense of urgency to finish the book and find that they are aptly punished. But, is that reality? The suspense will hold the reader beyond the final page of the book. A great solid teen-read!

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