Blog Tour: Breakaway by Michael Betcherman

When his father's is convicted of murdering hockey player Marty Albertson and sent to prison, Nick decides to quit trying in school, stop talking to his girlfriend and leave his hockey team. The only thing he can think about is finding a way to clear his dad's name and get him out of prison. He rides the bus all over the city, waits on street corners and at entrances of stadiums for hours, looking for the man who may have framed his father for the murder. It's the only clue he's got -- a bald headed, limping man he believes left incriminating evidence on his dad's jacket. But after months of searching, Nick is no closer to proving his dad's innocence.

He becomes even more frustrated when his father tells him to stop looking, accept the situation and get his life back together. Nick decides then to prove to everyone that he'll find the real culprit, succeed in school and hockey, and well, maybe even talk to his ex-girlfriend.

Soon after, Nick realizes that two people very close to him have possible motives for the murder. Could it be his hockey coach who's career dreams were destroyed by Marty? Or his dad's agent who is  secretly exchanging money with a mysterious man? Nick soon finds himself breaking into offices, hacking into email accounts and using hidden cameras... and when he thinks he's finally found the killer, he knows he might just be the next victim.

I don't usually read novels that focus heavily on a particular sport, as I'm not exactly a sports enthusiast and tend to find all the details on game play a bit tedious (and confusing if I'm not familiar with the sport). I do like mysteries though, so I volunteered to read the book and review it when RazOrbill announced this blog tour.

I'm not sure if it's just me, but it seems that the typical "whodunit" mysteries are becoming more and more rare in YA literature. It was a breather to have a storyline free from vampires, werewolves and post apocalypse devastation.

The Vancouver setting made the book a unique read and it was interesting for me to be able to picture landmarks and streets referred to in the book. Add hockey, a sport very familiar to us over on this side of the planet, to the mix and the descriptions in the book became pretty much photographic for me.

I found the story to have a strong premise; however, I do think the plot could have used some more twists to make things less predictable. A couple more suspects or red herrings would have made the story more suspenseful. The characters were fairly stereotypical -- though, following formulas isn't necessarily bad, and Nick's emotions in general were pretty realistic. As for the story's conclusion, the positive changes in the attitudes of the characters seemed a bit quick and problems presented in the book resolved too easily for me. I personally like some loose ends to make things more realistic and to leave room for my own interpretation.

That said, this book does have the selling points of hockey, mystery and romance, which will definitely appeal to some readers. It's a also good choice for anyone who is looking for a novel set in Vancouver (there really aren't that many around).

Michael Betcherman is the author of two online novels Suzanne and The Daughters of Freya. He has won awards for his documentary and TV screen plays which include Was Justice Denied? (Turner Network Television), The Team (CBC) and 72 Hours: True Crime. Breakaway is the first novel he has written for young adults.

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