At prestigious St. Frederick’s, a prep school tucked into the New England countryside, Cade Dixon has always been an outsider. Unlike his peers, he doesn’t come from money—whether it’s new, old, or hoarded through dubious means. His unique circumstances and knowledge of the campus grounds puts him at an advantage when St. Frederick is taken hostage by a group of armed criminals. Even worse: Kira, the girl Cade likes, is drawn into their mastermind’s outrageous bidding war, and the students find their lives in danger once a bomb is located on campus. With this own mother’s life hanging in the balance and time running out, Cade will stop at nothing to outsmart them. But can he throw enough wrenches into these criminals’ plans to put an end to their destruction?
LOST ONE STANDING is plotted and written like a cinematic thrill ride that’s easy to get sucked into as if watching a heist film unfold, a bit like “Die Hard” meets Jason Bourne for the young adult crowd, but set on the campus of an affluent prep school among the kids of the obscenely rich elite. A brilliant setting for such a thriller, which carves out enough time to make a nuanced commentary on generational wealth, capitalism, and income disparity. As a working class kid, Cade is able to pick apart all of the economic politics from a safe distance that many of his age will be able to relate to. His blue collar background leaves him out of the criminals’ bidding war, a crafty plot device that really delivers on the high-stakes tension. It’s ingenious as it is terrifying; though it’s hard to feel sorry for people with off shore accounts, multiple million dollar properties, and more wealth than they know what to do with. Still, it’s a testament to Hector Hill’s writing that the kids caught in the crossfire are deserving of sympathy even if their parents are ridiculous. This incredible social and economic experiment sets the plot in motion—just one horrendous obstacle on top of the minefield that Cade and Kira have to navigate while every branch of law enforcement attempts to negotiate outside the school’s gates.
Cade proves to be a likeable, resourceful protagonist who runs headfirst into every conflict the plot throws in his path. He’s a surprisingly complex character with sharp wit, a soft spot for his mother, an extensive knowledge on a whole host of nerdy subjects, and the wherewithal to defend himself. But wherever he has skills to rival the antagonists, he never comes across as overpowered or unbelievable. He doesn’t always win, though it’s fun to watch him get out of the most intense situations. The plot barely lets up, but once it does, Cade shares his complicated backstory and his budding relationship with Kira grows as the two of them fight their way past armed goons left and right. Their relationship is sweet, often funny, and they’re a fantastic criminal-busting pair. The book balances action with emotional stakes extremely well, hitting all of the right notes with each stunning twist and turn.
Hector Hill’s LOST ONE STANDING delivers all of the suspense and action of a heist film for the YA crowd and is a tense, high-stakes thriller with an extremely likeable protagonist and enough twists and turns to keep the plot barreling along at a breathless pace.
~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader