Reviews for Max Cassidy : Escape from Shadow Island

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Fourteen-year-old Max Cassidy is an accomplished escape artist--as was his father, presumed to have been murdered (by Max's mother?) two years before. Max's theatrical performances pale, however, in comparison to the danger of investigating Dad's disappearance. Max's skills in stealth and espionage, in addition to the story's intrigues and shadowy villains, set the stage for an action-packed sequel. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 January #1
Two years ago, Max Cassidy's father, a famous escapologist, vanished while performing in the small Central American country of Santo Domingo. The local authorities arrested and convicted Max's mother. Now living in London with his guardian and stage assistant Consuela, 14-year-old Max makes a living performing feats of escape while trying to be a regular kid. When a mysterious stranger crashes Max's dressing room and intimates that Max's dad is alive, Max can't wait to hear more. Then the stranger turns up murdered, and a shady government official advises Max to let things drop. No matter the danger, Max isn't about to leave his mother in prison and his father who-knows-where. With a reluctant Consuela in tow, he heads off to investigate and finds himself embroiled in Santo Domingo politics and a global conspiracy. British adult thriller author Adam's debut for young audiences is obviously the first of a series. It's a bit slow to start and slips the bonds of reality near the end, but literate thriller readers, especially those interested in escapology, will enjoy and likely ask for the next installment. (Thriller. 8-14) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Thriller writer Adam makes an inauspicious children's book debut, delivering a tale driven by characters making nonsensical choices. Max Cassidy, a 14-year-old schoolboy, is also a famous escape artist. When he was 12, his mother was arrested for the murder of his escape-artist father in the fictional Central American nation of Santo Domingo. A visit from a mysterious stranger convinces Max that his mother was framed, and he travels to the small country to uncover the truth. While there, he witnesses political corruption and discovers the titular island, now serving as a prison. When Consuela--his caretaker and his father's former assistant--vanishes, he knows he has to break into the nigh-impenetrable prison and try to discover the truth about what really happened to his father. Max's discoveries are moved ahead by boneheaded decisions on the parts of the villains--notably kidnapping Consuela for no logical reason. A few well-written escape sequences don't make up for the lack of thought put into the plot. The story ends with a cliffhanger, leaving plenty of questions unanswered. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 April

Gr 5-9--Onstage, Max, a 14-year-old London-based escape artist, is an up-and-coming wunderkind pushing the envelope of his inherited art form. Offstage, he is barely holding on. His father, the legendary escapologist Alexander Cassidy, has been missing and presumed dead since mysteriously disappearing in Santo Domingo two years earlier. Max's mother was hastily convicted of murdering her husband by a corrupt court and is now imprisoned, her health quickly deteriorating. Max has always believed in his mother's innocence, but it's not until he is visited by a mysterious stranger that he finally believes he has a chance of unraveling the truth. Lopez-Vega tells him that his father is still alive and that his mother was framed, and he invites Max to meet him the next day because he has something for him. Unfortunately, when Max arrives for the appointment, he finds Lopez-Vega slain in his room. Convinced that the cryptic message on the underside of the man's toupee is somehow key to discovering his father's whereabouts and clearing his mother's name, Max convinces Consuela, his guardian, to accompany him back to the scene of his father's disappearance. Readers who enjoy this solid mystery/adventure--one made more interesting by its insider insights into escapology--will have to wait to have this mystery fully uncovered, but Adam does a good job of whetting appetites for a sequel.--Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI

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VOYA Reviews 2010 April
Fourteen-year-old Max Cassidy has performed his escapologist act on his own for two years, ever since his father, another world-famous escapologist, vanished under suspicious circumstances in the Central American dictatorship of Santo Domingo. Max's mother was incarcerated for the crime, but he knows she did not do it. When a mysterious man shows up claiming that Max's father is still alive and then is murdered before he can say more, Max knows he must go to the corrupt Santo Domingo to find out what really happened. What he finds is the dangerous and impregnable Isla de Sombre--Island of Shadows--a former pirate fortress and prison now owned by a wealthy man performing questionable scientific experiments. Only an escapologist could get into the Island of Shadows, but will Max's considerable abilities be enough to get him out? This novel is formulaic action-adventure at its best, รก la Alex Rider, James Bond, and Dirk Pitt. Adam includes all the requisite tropes--mysterious messages, corrupt obscure countries, menacing thugs, beautiful women, secret codes, impregnable fortresses, explosions, stolen boats, prison escapes--and it adds up to tons of fun. Adding a mild twist are Max's escapologist tricks; boys especially will love the detailed descriptions of him regurgitating keys and lockpick wires. There is little time between action sequences to develop character, but most readers will be too busy turning pages to care. With a cliffhanger ending, look for much more of this series and be sure to hand it to your reluctant readers.--Rebecca Moore 5Q 4P Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.