Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Kalahari is the story of Sarah Carmichael, the daughter of a conservation researcher in Botswana. Her and her dad agree to take on five city kids for an educational visit, in exchange for continued funding. Sarah is not very happy about babysitting city kids, but little does she know how bad things are going to get. When her dad and their bushman guide Theo hear of poachers in the area, they go to investigate- but when they don't return Sarah finds herself alone- and in charge.
She decides to look for her dad, and so they set out, but when they find Theo half dead and her dad on the run, things go from bad to worse. Trying to find her dad, they stumble upon a research facility deep in the Kalahari- a facility that is being scrubbed clean of evidence. A mysterious virus has gone out of control, and is affecting the local wildlife- and now the kids are threatened not only by mercenaries determined to destroy all evidence, but animals that will kill- and worse, pass on the virus.
Kalahari is the third book by Jessica Khoury, and a follow on to Vitro, one of my favorites from last year. It's an adventure story with a science fiction twist, and I enjoyed it a lot. The same corporation behind the shenanigans in the first two is at work here again, in a different setting of course, and Sarah will need to draw on all her knowledge and experience to survive. There is a love interest in Sam Quartermain, a guy who has his own reasons for being there, and the romance is handled well. Jessica's writing is good and the story flows well, just like Vitro- I liked that one a little better, but this one is good too. The idea of a corporation doing illegal (and dangerous) work in isolated parts of the world is a neat one, and I enjoy the different takes on the concept. If I have any criticism, it's that the action sequences are a bit unrealistic at times. And while I like the cover, I'm afraid it looks like an adventure story with no real sign of the science fiction - it may get lost on the YA shelves a bit that way. Hopefully not. Kalahri was fun, with some ecology bits added- Jessica clearly did her research. This was a good and surprisingly affecting book.