Parent Quest : The Search For The Twin Mystery is Gabriel Ammah's debut novel and it is described as young adult action/adventure fiction. I think it would appeal to a slightly younger audience, more in the tweens and lower teens age bracket, partly because of the age of the main characters but also on account of the length (or lack of !) of the text - it's only 74 pages long.
The prologue sets the paranormal scene. On a dark stormy night in Ipswich, a baby boy is lying in his metal cot when his house is struck by lightning, imbuing him with magical powers. Fast forward a number of years and Neil, now aged 12, is apparently a perfectly normal boy, happy to play video games and hang out with his best friend, Cherron, the girl next door. Friendship isn't the only thing that connects them though - almost simultaneously but in seeming unrelated circumstances, both Neil's mother and Cherron's father went missing. While the remaining grown ups in their lives are trying to move on, Cherron and Neil both have a secret hope that they will manage to track down their missing parents. When their school bus is involved in an accident and they find themselves at the local hospital, Neil overhears the nurses mentioning something which could be a clue to discovering his mother's whereabouts.
As perfectly modern teens, the pair, along with their schoolfriends, use social media and the internet, as well as spying techniques, to follow the clues. The basic plotline, of quick witted and adventurous children trying to outsmart the grown-ups and solve a mystery, is timeless and has echoes of Enid Blyton or Nancy Drew type mysteries, but there are also elements of Harry Potter-ness, when the pair discover that they have magical powers. (I couldn't quite work out why Cherron was equally gifted when the prologue only mentions Neil being struck by lightning.)
This makes sense as the author says that he was inspired by the books he loved in his own childhood, as well as those that his children like to read. He also says he observed the way his children interact with their friends to develop his teenage characters, but I must admit that a few elements didn't seem quite right to me, for example a 12-year-old saying he was going to "the John", a word I've only ever heard adults use, and also a teenager addressing his friend's parents as Sir, Miss or Mrs, again something I've never encountered in the young people I know !
I found the ending to be disappointing - it cuts out just at the key moment - but I imagine there will be a sequel. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable and exciting read that certainly packs a lot into well under 100 pages, making it perfect for reluctant readers.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £4.99
Disclosure : I received the book in order to write an honest review.