Jack Heath, The Fail Safe, Allen & Unwin, Sept 2016, 272pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781925266078
The Fail Safe is the sequel to The Cut Out. It is about a normal teenager, Fero Dremovich, who lives in Kamau, except that he’s not really a normal teenager and he’s not really from Kamau. Before you continue, read book one. I didn’t get to but it was easy to pick up the story nevertheless. Book one does sound pretty exciting though, so it’s worth doing.
At the start of The Fail Safe, Fero already knows that his identity is all false. He was implanted with new memories, given new parents, a new identity and a new life when the Kamauan Government captured him. The truth is that his real name is Troy Maschenov and he is a spy from Besmar – Kamau’s neighbouring country and enemy. He pretends to not know about his real life even after the old memories start trickling in.
He finds a plan to get himself back to Besmar and fast. But things get more complicated when he stumbles into Dessa Cormanenko – a renegade ex-operative who is trying to stop Kamau and Besmar from killing each other with nuclear weapons. Dessa tells Fero he is the fail safe in case the plan doesn’t work out. But what that exactly means, he doesn’t know. When Fero finally manages to get back to Besmar, things don’t turn out the way he expects them to. Not only does he end up becoming the most wanted fugitive in Kamau, he also becomes the most wanted fugitive in Besmar. He needs to pick a side. Which country has it right? Kamau or Besmar? Who are the bad guys and who are the good guys? And who is he exactly? He doesn’t’ feel like Troy, but he’s also not Fero. It is more than just confusing for Fero, it is also superbly dangerous. Everyone is out to get him and he doesn’t know who he can trust.
The Fail Safe is an action packed adventure, great for young readers. Something is happening in each chapter that will keep readers on their toes, which is a good pace for a thriller for kids. It is a definite page turner. The book has violent themes (he is a spy), talks about nuclear weapons, mass destruction and killing so make sure your young reader is prepared for these things.
The end has been well tied up by Heath so it’s not really certain if there’s a third book but this reader is hoping there is.
Reviewed by Kristyn M Levis