Whew! Fast and furious...
Wow, I really wasnt sure what to expect when I got Desert Blood in the mail. The cover looks like an ad for a TV show (this is on purpose, of course, youll see why in a minute)&actually, not just any TV show, but a sex-filled Latino police/crime soap opera. A sexy, intense hunky cop surrounded by scantily clad women. A line at the top of the book boldly proclaims Everyone wants a piece of the rich and famous. and the first line on the back says, in big bold print, An all-Latino cast stars in this fast-paced and sexy Hollywood mystery.
Yeeeeowwwch. Pull out the fire extinguisher, cause this ones gonna burn ya.
So, when I started actually reading the book (hey, you know you cant judge a book by its cover, right?), it was a little different. Not a letdown in any way, mind you, just different from what you might expect. Honestly, if Id based picking this book up solely on the cover, I probably wouldnt have. Im not a soap opera kind of gal. But then Id have missed out on a good story.
Gus Gonzales, a fourteen year-old orphan, has been adopted by Nicholas Hernandez. While it is already unusual for a single guy to adopt a teen age boy, Gus situation is made even more unusual by the fact that Nick happens to be a famous (and hunky) TV star (hence the Desert Blood title; its the name of Nicks TV series). As with any celebrity situation, the two are constantly embroiled in false-accusations and media frenzies, the worst of which being when Nick is accused of having a Michael Jackson-esque (allegedly, I guess I should add) relationship with Gus by the tabloids.
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. But it is true that things are starting to get seriously scary. Threatening letters have started arriving (promising death to Gus) and a knife-wielding intruder breaks into their house. Then things *really* start to get out of control and the plot thickens with car chases, kidnappings, and much, much more.
It soon becomes obvious that Nick does have a secret to hide. Can Gus figure it all out before the bad guy gets the upper hand? Will Nick come clean, or will his secret tear their family apart forever? Will any of them make it out alive?
This is a fast-paced (let me repeat that: this is a *fast-paced*) mystery-adventure with race-against-the-clock energy. A good pick for reluctant readers and equally grabbing for both girls and boys. Recommended for ages 12 and up or 14 and up, if the reader is particularly squeamish or easy to terrify (though nothing is overly graphic, I just know a few 12 year-olds that cant handle the kind of intensity a novel like this has).
For those of you who like to know all the nitty-gritty Ronald Cree based this book, in part, on his real-life friendship with actor Nicholas Gonzalez (of The OC, Law & Order: SVU, and Anacondas fame) and his own experiences as an adoptive father.