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Pandora's Gun, by James Van Pelt
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publisher: Fairwood Press
Published: 2015
Review Posted: 7/10/2015
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Pandora's Gun, by James Van Pelt

Book Review by David L. Felts

Have you read this book?

There's a special kind of garbage dump in the woods near Peter's school. He and his friend Dante have spent many hours sifting through the broken but interesting stuff. What's even more interesting is that the contents of the dump seem to change. Different things appear and disappear without any clue as to how and why it happens.

Lately though, Peter and Dante have drifted apart. They used to be inseparable, but now it seems as though Dante is more interested in having a good time with newer friends, and has even taken up some unsavory habits Peter disapproves of, the same things both of them swore they would never do. And Dante's incessant interest in and vocal observations about the opposite sex are getting tiresome.  

So this afternoon finds Peter alone at the dump, rooting through a newly appeared pile of refuse. Underneath a large metal panel, he comes across a black duffle bag. Inside the bag he finds several dozen bricks, made  of what looks to be plastic and laced with golden circuitry. He also finds something that appears to be a gun, even though it's unlike any gun he's ever seen. It's oddly shaped, with a rounded mass where the barrel would normally be and a grip that looks as though it was made for six fingers. 

It's not long before Peter figures out it's not just a gun, it's an instrument so advanced that what it can do boggles the mind. It got thrown away by accident and now people -- people not from our Earth -- are looking for it.

Suddenly Peter finds himself in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, caught in the middle as different groups tracking the mysterious gun begin to close in.  But who are the good guys and who are the bad? And just how dangerous is the gun? 

With the help of Dante and his next door neighbor and classmate Christy, Peter tries to figure out who is who, how to keep the gun hidden, and how to keep himself and his friends -- and the very world -- safe. 

Van Pelt is a high school teacher, and his familiarity with teenagers and the teenage condition shines through in this story. There's something for everyone here, from the teen who will recognize aspects of him or herself in the characters, to the adult who will experience a wistful nostalgia for younger -- but not necessarily -- simpler times.
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