Firestorm: The Caretaker Trilogy, Book One -- David Klass
You wouldn't think that breaking a measly local football record would be life-changing, but tell that to Jack Danielson. While celebrating his victory at a local restaurant, he vaguely notices a man staring at him. He takes a bit more notice when the man's eyes flash at him in a strangely sci-fi-movie way.
Within a few hours, he is told that his parents are not his parents and he finds himself running for his life. Along with a shape-shifting ninja-girl and a telepathic dog, he begins a quest for something called "Firestorm".
David Klass is the author of the brilliant You Don't Know Me. Considering that, I find it surprising that he is physically capable of writing dialogue this bad: "For years I've told you to hide your abilities. Now you must use them all. Fly, my boy, fly like the wind." Jack is told over and over again that he is a (prepare to shudder) "beacon of hope". I'm not exaggerating -- a lot of this book sounds like it comes straight out of a bad, bad action movie. Jack's interior monologue and his telepathic conversations with Gisco the dog are significantly less painful.
Firestorm is an extremely fast-paced sci-fi/action-adventure. The pacing has a lot to do with the fact that the narrator tells his story almost entirely in sentence fragments, but:
A) he's very up front about it, mentioning his tendency to do so in the first paragraph (which could be viewed as gimmicky or as a cop-out on the author's part, but hey, who am I, the Queen of Overused Commas, Parenthesis, Dashes and the word Totally, to complain about someone else's writing style) and
B) reluctant readers might actually really dig the style, since they'll rarely have to read sentences that are more than three or four words long.
The environmental message is so heavy-handed that I could easily picture Steven Seagal producing a film adaptation. I felt like I was being battered by four giant message-bearing frying pans. (Imagine them doing an aeriel ballet: La la la la la BLAM. BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM. La la BLAM la la BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM. And so on.) It isn't a message that I disagree with, but DEAR GOD -- some subtlety would have been appreciated.
As I said before, because of the pacing, I can see it being a decent pick for some reluctant readers. Fans of Alex Rider and Diane Duane might (MIGHT) like it. There are some strong parallels to The Matrix, too: The fight sequences are quite similar, Jack's discovery that his entire existence is a lie, the shape-shifting ninja-girl is the stand-in for Trinity, and Jack is basically "The One". So there are some people out there that will like it -- heck, the Executive Director of Greenpeace gave it a rave review on the back of my galley copy.
For fans of You Don't Know Me, though, I'd suggest complete and total avoidance.