Booklist Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: April 15, 2013
Back Before Dark
Shoemaker, Tim (Author)
Mar 2013. 376 p. Zonderkidz, hardcover, $14.99. (9780310734994).
The trap that begins this strong follow-up to the excellent Code of Silence (2012) is sickeningly smart. Friends Cooper, Hiro, and Lunk watch in shock as their pal Gordy hails a van to tell the driver that there’s a backpack on the roof. But it is a lure; the side door slides open, Gordy is tazed, and the van vanishes with him. The authorities are clueless, so the guilt-ridden friends start taking their own investigative steps, each riskier than the last. Shoemaker’s third-person voice gives us each kid’s perspective, including Gordy, who is chained in a pitch-black, slowly flooding basement. We also get glimpses of the kidnapper, who views the whole thing as a game before it spirals out of control. As with the first book, multiple characters’ prayers feel awkwardly inserted, and there is a certain amount of repetition spread across the perhaps too many chapters. Still, Shoemaker’s characters and plot possess a believability rare for YA mysteries. And the climax? You will not have any fingernails left by the final page.
— Daniel Kraus, Booklist, starred review
Working with Tim back-and-forth on his books was an exciting adventure! At one point while editing Back Before Dark, I called Tim and said, "My blood pressure is literally raised and my heart is pounding right now!"
As it was, my editing of Code of Silence contributed to me getting hired at Zondervan. Since then, it was named a Top-Ten Mystery for Young Adults by School Library Journal among other awards, and the series has received starred Booklist reviews.
Perhaps better testimony, my twelve-year-old daughter plowed through the books and has since shared them with all her reading friends, boys and girls. Tim was a huge hit when he spoke to the sixth grade class at Grand Rapids Christian Middle School, and the librarian has since shared that his books are always check out of their library.
Tim Shoemaker is the award-winning author of the Code of Silence series and speaker extraordinaire! When he isn't on the speaking and teaching circuit, he's busy thinking up more stories and dangerous devotions to do with kids, like smashing tomatoes and exploding eggs! Author, speaker, and volunteer youth worker for over twenty years, Tim Shoemaker has been happily married for over thirty-five years and has raised three grown sons, and his books include some of his adventures! Learn more at www.timshoemakersmashedtomatoes.com.
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