Sunday, July 20, 2014

Book Review: Earthquake Shock by Marlane Kennedy (Disaster Strikes #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5 (for the target audience)
Pros: Action and good characters
Cons: None for beginning readers in early elementary school.  Adults will find it light and short
The Bottom Line:
The earth starts to shake
Will these four friends make it home?
Early chapter book

This New Series is Not Off to a Shaky Start

Growing up in California, earthquakes are a fact of life.  I’ve been in quite a few small ones, but only one major earthquake.  Even then, it wasn’t located close enough to really disrupt my daily life.  Still, I found it interesting that earthquakes were the main focus of the first in the new Disaster Strikes series from Marlane Kennedy.  I approached Earthquake Shock with a little more interest than I will some of the others just because I know a little more about them.

Joey is thrilled to be allowed to stay late at the skate park even if it does mean having to come home with Dylan.  He is trying to learn some new tricks on his new skateboard, and he’s enjoying practicing them with his friends Fiona and Kevin.  However, as the four of them are on their way home, an earthquake hits Los Angeles, separating the group.  Is everyone okay?  What will they find when they get home?

The series is aimed at young readers just graduating up to chapter books.  It’s only 110 pages long, and there are pen illustrations once or twice a chapter.  As a result, I found it to be a very fast read, and it certainly isn’t over complicated.  But it is just right for the target audience.

Take the plot.  It’s really more a series of encounters that the friends have after the quake hits as they try to get home.  There are some close calls, which definitely caught my interest, but they were resolved fairly quickly so we could move on to the next thing.  Still, it works well for the target audience, who will find each encounter very interesting.  I know I did.

Considering how short the book is, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of character development, and the characters and their growth are fairly obvious to adults.  However, kids won’t care because they’ll be interested in the action.  And even with the limited amount of page time she had to work with, Marlane still managed to give us some good characters we care about.  I did tear up at the end, after all.  And I really did like Joey, who bravely did what he needed to do in several situations.  He makes a great hero.

The author even manages to work in just a bit of humor.  It’s not enough to make light of the bad situation, but it does help lighten the mood.

So what about details of the quake itself?  Again, I haven’t been as close to the center of a big quake as these characters are, but I certainly did recognize the way it was described from the quakes I’ve been through.  The aftermath felt real to me as well.

Earthquake Shock really is a great book for young readers because the story will catch and keep their interest.  Heck, I might have a few nitpicks, but even so I got caught up in it and am glad I read it.

This review of part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.


  1. I hadn't heard of this one and sounds like the perfect summertime read. I've only experienced one earthquake and it is something I'll never forget. Thanks for featuring.

    1. You are welcome. It was a fast read, but there's nothing wrong with that in the slightest.


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