I,Q: Independence Hall

I,Q: Independence Hall by Roland Smith

Q isn’t entirely sure what to think of his brand-new step-sister Angela, but he’ll have plenty of time to figure it out.  Their recently married parents just happen to be musical superstars who are embarking on a country-wide concert tour.  (Side note: This is really just a modern, less gruesome that killing them, way to get the parents out of the way so that the children can have a largely unsupervised adventure.)  It’s not long before it become clear that not everyone associated with the tour is exactly who they claim to be.  And it doesn’t take Q and Angela much longer after that to figure out that Angela’s mother must be somehow linked to the mystery.

This is a pretty great adventure book.  I was engaged enough to want to know what happened next.  I would absolutely recommend this to strong readers in Grades 5 and up. Although I have no immediate plans to continue the series, I wouldn’t really mind knowing what happens next.  Again, this wraps up nicely, so you don’t feel strung along, but it will leave readers wanting to spend more time with Q. and Angela.  While I didn’t find it to be incredibly violent (despite the someone lengthy violence section below) there was a fair amount of discussion of terrorists, including references to currently active terrorist groups.  This may cause greater fear or worry in children than fictional terrorist situations would.  The terrorist/spy/secret identity/double agent type of information used throughout the book also added a layer of complexity.  I sometimes wasn’t sure what exactly was happening and although I wasn’t reading terribly closely, I’m an adult.  Don’t be surprised if readers can’t accurately relate who is on which side or what is really happening at certain junctures.

Great for: There is some serious name dropping of authors and books in here.  I am truly grateful when a book does some of the work of recommending other books to readers!  Also, there is a blended family that gets along really well.  Obviously the point of this book is not to explore the relationships between step-siblings in a serious way, so I’ll settle for a positive relationship between all members in the group.  Triple bonus for having Angela be an incredibly tough and physical strong teenage girl.

Sex, Nudity, Dating – Q’s mother gets married.  There’s a possible bigamy situation.  There’s a reference to an arranged marriage.
Profanity – “Thank God,”
Death, Violence and Gore – Two men carry guns (including an automatic weapon).  Angela’s mother had died prior to the start of the book.   Angela’s mother’s parents had been killed when Angela’s mother was just a baby.  There’s a photo of her mother with an automatic pistol.  There is a reference to the twin towers falling.  They worry about a possible car bomb.  A security guard puts his hand on his gun as if to draw.  A woman would have shot to kill.  Someone’s shoulder is dislocated. Someone’s foot is crushed.  There are multiple references to terrorists/terrorism/Al Queda/sleeper cells and the training involved to partake in such acts. A knife is held to someone and pierces the skin resulting in a trickle of blood. Someone has killed young children. A car hits someone.  There’s a suicide bomber.  Someone is beaten, tortured and killed.  Someone dies at the hospital.  Someone’s ear is partially torn off. A taser is used. Another character dies.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – A car is stolen.  They are being followed.  Q’s real father is pretty crazy and his mother needed a restraining order against him at one point.

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