Fans of the Percy Jackson or Alex Rider spy/adventures stories will find a lot to like here: smart-mouthed 15 year old who uses ingenuity and observation skills in order to break out of maximum security prisons. In this case, our hero, Will Drake, is a bit more serious and there is a supernatural element that will greatly impact future books in the series. But there are enough explosions and wanton destruction to keep readers happy even if the end is known by the first page. It’s never about if Drake will get out – it’s how.
Story: In a near future world where a mega corporation dictates a lot of the world’s rules, Will Drake has been in 3 different prison systems – and broke out of each. And for good reason: health care rules have prevented his mother from affording needed medicine or she will die. And Drake will do what needs to be done (stealing the medicine and getting it to his mother) to ensure that does not happen. But after the third escape, when he is caught with his mother he is sent to a new prison made from an offshore drilling rig somewhere near Nova Scotia. If the sharks don’t get him while he attempts escape, the cold water would – and it looks like Drake may be stuck permanently. But never count him out, for Drake always has an escape plan.
The Rig is a fun ride. Missing only ‘sharks with lasers’, it’s a good mix of action and supernatural that keeps the story grounded but also nicely fantastical. Like the Great Escape, Drake has to deal with other prisoners (both good and bad), make the right friends (a computer genius best friend and girl with medical skills help), and avoid the guards’ attention (which is aimed squarely at the boy known for escapes). Unlike Alex Rider, Drake is very serious and goes about his plans methodically. There are some fun quips in the book but it’s not about Drake getting to smart-mouth the adults so much as out-smart them.
The fantastical came at the end of the book and somewhat out of nowhere. Yes, if an adult stops to think about it, it is kind of silly (“Crystal-X”???). But then, the world building was decently done (even taking into consideration that this story took place entirely on the rig) and the near-future dystopian setting believable.
Although there is a lot of violence at the end as everything blows up, this is more than suitable for teens and perhaps even tweens. It should keep them riveted as they wait to see how Drake will manage to escape this predicament. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.