Brief Synopsis: Kitty Hawk is a recent high school graduate from Tofino, British Columbia, Canada with big dreams and her pilot’s licence. She is a born explorer, and the summer before her promises to be full of adventures. Not only does Kitty have her pilot’s licence, she also has her own plane, and she plans to use this to study humpback whales off the coast of Juneau, Alaska. However, even studying whales and exploring a new city do not comprise all of the adventures Kitty faces in this exciting first story of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency series. Secrets that date back to the Yukon Gold Rush arise, and Kitty finds herself in unexpected danger as she explores more than just the behavior of whales.
I should stop having expectations for books. Whether positive or negative, the books are never what I expect. For example, I anticipated this book to be a fairly basic and predictable YA, possibly written on an even lower level. While the writing is easy to comprehend, the story is anything but predictable or basic. The protagonist is a teenaged girl with an airplane who wants to study whales – how could anything she does be predictable?
I was, unfortunately, thrown off a bit by the timeline in the story. The first third of the book covers nearly an entire summer, while the last two thirds span only a few days. I’ll admit, I was nervous when I got approximately 25% in and the summer was progressing so quickly and nothing very interesting had happened since the first chapter. However, once a certain plot point happened, the pace picked up significantly and I was hooked! I would be a little concerned if someone who does not particularly enjoy reading picked up this book that they wouldn’t make it to the really interesting (and informative) portion, but if they are able to stick it out they will be greatly rewarded.
Not only does this book contain an unique protagonist and engaging story, Reading also includes a substantial amount of historical facts about the Gold Rush and Alaskan history. He even includes some information on related literature, from poetry to Jack London. This is a book that belongs on the shelves of every high school and junior high library because of the flawless job that Reading does integrating information with entertainment. It may not tackle big social issues or deal with the philosophy behind anything, but there is so much factual information conveyed in an enjoyable and easy-to-follow format.
Aside from the lull in action that occurs early in the story, my only complaints regarding Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold are the frequency with which Kitty has conversations with her own inner voice, and the maps sporadically included in the book. I found these conversations off-putting, even annoying at times. Utilizing a character’s thoughts is one thing, but Kitty carries on arguments and conversations with herself for extended periods of time in a manner that just irritated me. As for the maps, I am sure than in a hard copy they would be useful, but on my Kindle screen they were too small to read and unable to be enlarged. This was disappointing; I would have liked to follow along with where Kitty’s adventures take her, but instead there were merely blurry rectangles with a mess of convoluted lines inserted every so often.
Nevertheless, this book was a true pleasure to read. I felt like I learned a lot, despite already having a fairly firm grasp on the events of the Gold Rush. Kitty does not always make the best decisions, but that is how some of her adventures come about, and there are always consequences to her decisions, whether good or bad. I believe that this book, and hopefully the rest of the series, would be a blessing to any upper-level school library and thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA adventures, stories that combine a modern story with history, or who wants to learn more about the Yukon Gold Rush.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions presented herein are my own.