Everyone loves senior Carson Toliver, the captain and quarterback of the football team, heartthrob of South Burlington County Regional High—especially the girls. Even Jack’s best friend Weezy has a crush on him. And unlike most of the popular kids at school, he’s not stuck up. Jack even sees him defending a piney kid who is being bullied in the hall. Which is why Jack is so surprised when Weezy tells him that Carson took her on a date and attacked her.
Jack tries to convince her to report Carson, but Weezy would rather just forget it ever happened. She begs him not to tell anyone, and Jack reluctantly agrees. But then Carson starts telling his own version of what happened that night and suddenly everyone is calling her “Easy Weezy.” Jack’s concern turns to rage. Carson needs to be taught a lesson. With the help of the pineys—reclusive inhabitants of the mysterious Jersey Pine Barrens who have secrets of their own—Jack finds a way to exact secret vengeance…(Publisher's summary from Goodreads)
Jack Secret Vengeance is the third book in a series, and while I normally do not like reading books that are part of a series out of order, I can honestly say that this one can stand alone. The book is fast paced and Jack is a very interesting character, who in an effort to right a wrong finds himself crossing a line. I loved the setting, which takes place in a small New Jersey town, where the mysterious Piney Barrens and its inhabitants hold secrets that I for one wanted to know more about. Jack’s moral compass is set on getting back at Carson for attacking his best friend Weezy, and he does it with a lot of finesse and ingenuity.
The only problem I had with the novel was my queasiness over the getting even tenor of the plot. While I really did admire Jack’s loyalty to his friend and applauded the fact that he wanted to help, I also have reservations about sending a message that it is OK to seek vengeance. In Jack’s defense, I was happy that he encouraged Weezy to report the attack and because of her refusal, Jack felt it necessary to take a stand for her. There is also no question that Carson deserved to “be taught a lesson”, and as the story moves to its shocking end, the reader learns just how evil Carson was. Still, I do not think this is the right message for the YA audience to have.
Despite my reservations, I am definitely interested in reading F. Paul Wilson’s first two books in this YA series and his adult novels about Jack.
Source: Received finished copy from publisher