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Stone Rider

Review

Stone Rider

Adam and his brother Frank barely survive in the earth’s big dust bowl in STONE RIDER by David Hofmeyr. Food and water are brought to their community --- Blackwater --- from Sky Base, a ship in the clouds where the elites live.  The people on earth, also known as the Left Behinds, work in the Vodenite mines. Vodenite is a perfect fuel that is harvested from the Earth's core.  Survival is difficult in the dust-choked world of the mines, but there is one way out: the Blackwater Trail Race.  The boy or girl who wins first place is shipped up to Sky Base, no questions asked.
 
Despite the life-changing prize, Adam had no intention of racing because he did not want to leave his brother --- or Sadie, the girl he secretly has a crush on --- behind.  But when tragedy erupts, Adam shows up at the starting line.
 
The race is a blood bath and there's no turning back.  Adam's focus quickly changes from winning to simply surviving.  And then he spots Sadie, who is also racing the deadliest track on Earth.
 
When action is afoot, [author] Hofmeyr is on a roll and I feel for the characters as they ride across the hot desert.
 
Although I was intrigued by Hofmeyr’s dystopian love story, I often had a hard time connecting with the dialogue. In particular, it was difficult for me to believe all the characters’ drawling cowboy slang --- it seemed to come from an old Western movie. This mostly happened in tender parts of the book --- the sentimental moments turned cliché because I could only imagine a cigarette careening out of a character’s mouth and a wide brimmed straw hat shading his eyes.  
 
Other times, when action is afoot, Hofmeyr is on a roll and I feel for the characters as they ride across the hot desert, most of the time in pain.
 
While the boys in the story included many complex, well-rounded characters, Sadie struck me as two-dimensional. She was perfect in every way --- beautiful, smart, brave --- and at the same time a damsel in distress.  I would have loved if Hofmeyr had written a darker side to her, a less desirable side to make her more human.
 
I love the idea of a post-apocalyptic, high stakes race, and this was definitely my favorite part of the book. Hofmeyr is very creative with his use of weapons and machines and has a good sense of timing.  The attacks never seem obvious, and there are large breaks in between problems, so it isn't overwhelming.
 
STONE RIDER is a classic “boy book” --- I would recommend it to any science fiction-loving boy in middle school or freshman year of high school.  It is action-packed and often left me wanting to jump ahead to see what would happen.  Fortunately, its ending is left wide open for a sequel. 

Reviewed by Maya B., Teen Board Member on July 13, 2015

Stone Rider
by David Hofmeyr