Blurb: Fourteen-year-old Jacob has won a once-in-a-lifetime chance to appear in a Hollywood movie. But when he misses his flight in Chicago and catches the Greyhound to LA he meets Jennifer… and the real trouble starts. Jennifer is on the run, carrying a mysterious package, and Jacob soon finds himself her unlikely partner in crime on a wild road trip across the USA. Miles of open road lie ahead of them – but the police, a furious grandmother and a sinister figure known only as ‘the Cowboy’ are just a few steps behind…
Title: That Time I Got Kidnapped
Author: Tom Mitchell
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s
Genre: Fiction, YA, Contemporary, Adventure
Jacob’s just won the competition prize of his dreams – the chance to be an extra in the newest Marvel superhero movie! All he has to do is travel to LA via Chicago and the rest is taken care of. But when he misses his connecting flight (no thanks to Nicholas Cage!) and decides to take matters into his own hands, the real action begins. Stuck somewhere between Chicago and Hollywood with no phone and a companion who seems like she’s in a world of trouble, it’s Jacob’s turn to step up and becoming the type of hero he’s always looked up to.
I picked up this book hoping for something that I could recommend to younger readers who were just starting to branch out into YA. As a bookseller who’s often asked about the suitability of different books for different ages, the younger end of YA is patchy at best. However… I definitely think I’ve struck gold with this one! It’s contemporary, age appropriate and fun – and also gives me the same vibes as some of the Wimpy Kid books that are so beloved.
The thing I loved the most about this book was the action! The storyline is fairly simple but with brilliant pacing we’re consistently moving onto the next obstacle, keeping things interesting. It was so fun to watch Jacob and Jennifer get into scrape after scrape and manage to wiggle themselves out of it, leaving lots of room for the introduction of fun side characters and hilarity. Speaking of characters, I thought Jacob and Jennifer were both very well written as we got to see them change over the course of the book – the plucky Jennifer we meet shows off her vulnerable side and the sensible Jacob figures out that a bit of action can sometimes be pretty exciting. However, they’re both much braver than me to be galavanting around at fourteen 😂
I also have to note the very subtle nod to Tom Holland at the end of the book. Even without naming him in particular, we all know who Jacob’s bumped into and it definitely made me smile!
As for what I disliked, there honestly isn’t anything to complain about! I have absolutely no idea how realistic any of this is as I’ve never set foot in America myself but the not knowing really added to the fun for me. One thing I do wish we’d have gotten to see was Jennifer’s grandmother. We hear a lot about how ‘Lex Luthor’ she is (and she sounds pretty formidable) but I have a bunch of questions about her that we didn’t get any answers to. Maybe this is just a case for my imagination to take the reins?!
Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who fancies a fun read, packed with adventure. This is perfect reading for any younger bookworms diving into the YA section who’ve enjoyed the likes of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates!
Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!
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