3 Stars Out Of 5
The Missing Video
April 24, 2011
The Missing Video, written by Dave Gustaveson, is Book 1 in the Reel Kids Adventures series. In this opening episode, Jeff and Mindy (who are brother and sister), their friend K.J., and their adult friend and mentor, Warren, are headed to Cuba as part of the Reel Kids Adventure Club.
Warren started the Reel Kids Adventure Club as a way to take high school students on short trips to different countries. The idea was to have students learn about different cultures, focusing on the country's religion, sharing their faith with kids in other countries, and recording the trips so they could make presentations to other youth when they returned home.
Jeff and Warren had been on several trips together, but this is the first trip that Mindy and K.J. have taken. Jeff is a bit apprehensive about taking his sister because she tends to break down into tears at the drop of a hat, and he is also a bit leery of taking his friend K.J., as K.J. tends to do his own thing without really following the rules. Of course, given those parameters, there are troubles with the trip.
And, the troubles start before the group even leaves the country. First, K.J. has to come up with the rest of the money he needs to pay for his share of the expenses. He manages to do so at the last minute. Then, everyone needs to get visas so they have permission to be in Cuba. There are many glitches in that process before they all are finally cleared to go.
Then, once they get to Cuba they have to deal with the secret police following them everywhere. The Cuban government won't allow them to share their testimonies outside of a church, and even then, they are supposed to have their "speeches" pre-approved. They have to hide the video they've made of their trip so it won't be confiscated; then, they have trouble retrieving it before the trip home. Even with all their trails and troubles, the group manages to make it safely back home.
What I Like: I liked reading a book set in a foreign country. I learned a bit about Cuba's history and culture while reading this story.
What I Dislike: Although the story was interesting because it was set in a foreign country, there were some things in the storyline that didn't ring true and left me questioning: The author says Jeff, Mindy and K.J. had all been excused from their first-period study hall at school. That made me wonder how they all three ended up in the same first-period study hall when they weren't all in the same grade at school? At one point the author said Jeff felt "doubly lucky" and that Mindy "crossed her fingers." The term "doubly lucky" and the phrase "crossed her fingers" doesn't fit well with the description of either Josh's or Mindy's personality or Christian beliefs. He wouldn't believe in "luck" and she wouldn't cross her fingers for good luck, so why use those terms? It was inconsistencies like these throughout the book that marred the message of the story. And, near the end of the book, Jeff is put in jail. He's just a teenager. Would they really put a teenager in jail?