Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Code Red: Outbreak

Code Red: Outbreak

Chris Ryan
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Random House UK, 2009   ISBN: 978-1862302808

Ben Tracey is well aware that going to the People’s Republic of Congo with his father could be a risky proposition, and he knows that his mother is not in favor of him going at all. Nevertheless, Ben decides that he will go anyway. His father is a scientist and he has been asked to run some tests in a mine in a remote region of the African country. Ben is keen to see what it is like there and he feels that such an adventure will be a worthwhile experience.

It is only when he gets to PRC that he fully comes to appreciate how unstable the country is. The man who has been appointed to be their driver and guide, Abele, is thankfully an honest person and he keeps a close eye on Ben and his father, making sure that the two people from England don’t do anything too silly.

Soon after Ben and his father arrive in the country they are sent to the village of Udok, where the mine is situated. When he gets there, Ben delivers a package for someone that he met in Kinshasa, and he learns that a large percentage of the people in the village are sick, dying, or dead. He makes friends with the recipient of the package, a girl called Halima, who tells him that the sickness appears to be coming from the mine. The villagers think that the sickness is caused by a curse. Ben’s father, who is soon sick himself, is sure that the sickness is a deadly virus and he is equally sure that the mining company is fully aware of what is going on. They just don’t care. Ben’s father urges his son to get hold of a satellite phone and to call someone who can warn the authorities about the virus. If it is not contained and if it should spread, millions of people in Africa could die. The problem is that the only satellite phone in the village just happens to belong to the mine manager, a man who is determined to keep the Udok disaster a secret. How on earth are Ben and Halima going to get the word out about what is going on?

In this exciting thriller, Ben Tracey finds himself facing a dire situation. Once again he has dig deep within himself to find hidden resources of strength, courage, and ingenuity to survive and to save the day. Thankfully, Ben has some local help this time, for otherwise he would surely get lost in the jungle, get kidnapped by bandits, or get eaten by some hungry animal. Readers who enjoy a good adventure yarn will find that this story deeply satisfying, and they will incidentally learn that it is not wise to wander around an African jungle if you are not fully prepared, in every way, for such an expedition.