Conspiracy 365: January by Gabrielle Lord (January 2010, Hodder Children's Books, ISBN: 0340996447)
New Year's Eve
Flood Street, Richmond
It was the wild, billowing black cloak, streaming behind the menacing figure, that first caught my eye.
Review: Australian author Gabrielle Lord has written a series featuring teenager Cal Ormond which, is quite unusually, being published at the rate of one book per month with each issue coming out on the 1st of the month. In the first book, January, we are introduced to Cal on the 31 December. His dad has died a few months previously from a mystery virus which left him unable to speak. Cal is in the street when a shambling man tells him that he is in danger but if he survives the next 365 days then he will be ok.
Before Cal's dad died he visited Ireland where he stumbled on a family secret and he wrote about it to Cal and included a drawing of a soldier with angel wings. He said that they would be rich. Cal never found out what his dad knew and bad things have been occurring ever since. In January, Cal has several near-death experiences and when he can't even trust his family he is forced to go on the run...
January sets up the premise for the whole series and the pages count down from 185 to 0 along with the number of days Cal has left to survive. The chapter headings are the date and each chapter is divided into different times. The action is pretty non-stop, as any days which are quiet are missed out of the narrative. There are some real baddies in this and a nasty and scary cliff-hanger ending. I liked Cal and his friend Boges and the Australian setting makes a change (hot weather in January!) for UK readers. I think this could be a great series for teenage fans of thrillers, especially boys. The books aren't too long and the font-size is large, so that might also encourage less enthusiastic readers to have a go.