"HUBER HILL AND THE DEAD MAN'S TREASURE," by B.K. Bostick, Sweetwater Books, $14.99, 288 pages (ages 12 and up) (f)
Huber Hill is a typical 14-year-old boy suffering the typical tortures of youth: teasing and bullying at school (mostly about his name) and a less-than-ideal home life. But when Huber's grandfather dies and leaves him and his twin sister a map to supposed treasure hidden somewhere in the mountains, Huber sets off for the greatest adventure of his life, and great dangers that could end it.
"Huber Hill and the Dead Man's Treasure" is full of adventure, and Utah and Mormon author B.K. Bostick certainly knows how to write action. However, the story gets off to a slow start as the reader is taken through several chapters of Huber’s school and home life. Perhaps it was an attempt at character depth, but Huber's personal and family issues didn't tie into the main plot enough to warrant so much focus. An intriguing prologue is the only thing that keeps the reader going for the first 50 pages. Thereafter, the pace picks up as the treasure hunt begins and the villain takes a more central role in the story.
The villain, Juan Hernan Salazar, is the most exciting character of the novel. He is deeply drawn, and since the reader knows where he is coming from, it makes him feel all the more threatening, because we know not only what he’s capable of but why. He’s a frighteningly believable villain. The most exciting parts of the book are sure to have Salazar close by, if not in the middle of the action.
The second half of the book is very thrilling with adventures and threats falling on top of each other, Indiana Jones style. Perhaps overcompensating for a slow beginning, Bostick tipped the scales in the other direction with almost too much action, as well as some pretty unfeasible plot elements.
Huber Hill is the start of an adventurous series that both boys and girls will enjoy, but with a slow-moving first half, stilted dialogue and awkward writing throughout, it might be difficult for readers to immerse themselves enough to even get to the excitement.
Bostick, who is Mormon, donated the royalties from preorders and books sales from a two-week period during the book's launch to help a girl suffering from a brain tumor.
Liesl Shurtliff lives in Chicago with her family. She blogs at writerropes.blogspot.com