Jack: Secret Circles by F. Paul Wilson.
Tor/Tom Doherty Associates: NY, 2010.
2nd book Young Repairman Jack series

In this second book of the YA prequel to Repairman Jack, Weezy is obsessed with getting the pyramid artifact that she and Jack had discovered back from the Lodge, which was handed the object by the professor that was analyzing it. They find a large scale pyramid and circle structure in the Pines which they know is linked to their miniature. This lends credence to Weezy's Secret History of the World, or at least the region.

Also, in the story the family of Jack's best friend (who had died previously) is in trouble. He accidentally learns that there is abuse going on and wants to right what is wrong. His experiences are honing his future skills, and he is already making choices that put him on the edge of society and trouble. Choices that will force him to live a life of secrets.

The third major theme in the story is Jack's missing five year old neighbor, Cody. At the start, he has just learned to ride his bike without training wheels. Twice, Jack tells him to go back home, knowing Cody has strayed farther than his mother would want. Later, Jack feels responsible, because he did not take him back or tell Cody's parents. He only watched him head back. In the background, throughout the story is a large creature lurking in the shadows, in different places around town. One possibility for the disappearance is this creature. Another is the ever looming Pines. Still another makes no sense, that the Lodge is somehow involved. The conclusion is more bizarre than I could have expected and is still shrouded in mystery, as are many things in the Repairman Jack series.

Underlying the rest is that Jack cares about his community, he is offended by criminal actions, and is starting to see that he can impact the negative happenings. He starts from a position of wanting to assist the authorities in achieving justice. When that doesn't work, he goes the vigilante route.

F. Paul Wilson has taken quite a bit of critcism on his move to write for YA. His books are not the standard YA books. To me, that is a good thing. His books are on the dark side, but they are also realistic in approaching tough subjects that occur regularly, with a smidgen of supernatural thrown in to keep the anticipation level up. Clearly, most people could not get away with behaving as Jack does. I like to think of Jack (the adult Jack) as the wishful vigilante in all of us gone wild. Wilson's YA books are well-written, captivating, original and employ philosophy regarding the development of Jack's character. Other YA books are dark also, just in a different way, often in a much less mature or formulaic way. I don't feel Wilson has made a mistake with the YA Jack. What is wrong with having a mature character for a change? YA should be about nudging teens toward a more mature thinking, not wallowing in high school immaturity. Jack's judgement of behavior in the community is very much how an adolescent would respond. The fact that he acts upon it is different, but consistent with boys' behavior, if they were to act.

The best parts of the over-arching Repairman Jack series are the vigilante character and his resourcefulness. He attacks a problem from many directions. I also enjoy the supernatural tidbits, though the detective/spy/vigilante scenario is most of the story. The worst part of the YA series is that it is attached to a much darker adult series. Jack's character is over the deepend at times. I have not read all of the books yet, because he does things that really are not nice. It doesn't matter that it is to people who might deserve it. Because of this aspect though, I would only recommend the series to mature YA. They will want to read the adult series afterwards.

related-mystery and detective stories, supernatural, coming of age, spying, missing child, alcohol RL=YA-adult

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