CYBILS REVIEW: Nine Days by Fred Hiatt


A fast-paced contemporary thriller in the vein of James Patterson and Anthony Horowitz set against the bustling backdrop of Hong Kong, Vietnam, and the border of China. This heart-pounding adventure takes place as two teens, an American teenage boy and his friend, a Chinese girl from his Washington, DC-area high school, must find her father who has been kidnapped—and they only have nine days. Although the characters in the novel are fictionalized, they are based on a real Chinese family who were part of the Chinese Democracy Movement and inspired this story.


Ethan and Ti-Anna become good friends after Ethan speaks up about the awful things that Mao Zedong did to China during his years in power.  When he discovers that her father, a Chinese dissident, has disappeared, he decides to help her. But they have no idea what they are getting themselves into when they get on a plane and fly to Hong Kong to look for her father.  What they find is far more than they ever expected and their lives are on the line.

Strengths:  Nine Days is a compelling story with a powerful theme about doing the right thing even in the face of great sacrifice.  Ethan and Ti-Anna make great main characters who have both strengths and weaknesses and while their intentions are good, they make some big mistakes that land them in a lot of trouble and they face the consequences for those choices. The historical and geographical aspects of this novel are well integrated into the story allowing the story to be told without getting bogged down in detail.

Weaknesses: Ethan and Ti-Anna make some hugely dangerous choices here that made me wince over and over. The chances of two young people doing what these two did is unlikely at best and even if possible is extremely dangerous. I wanted to jump into the book and tell them to stop being so utterly foolish.


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