“Return Fire” is the sequel to “Moving Target” by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. The first book drew kids in by promising an adventure looking for magical objects that could change the future. The protagonist is Cassie Arroyo, whose mother has died and whose father was injured trying to protect her. It seems that Cassie is one of a special bloodline of people who can change the future if they possess a magical spear called the Spear of Destiny.
She is on the run from people who want to kill her. Accompanying her is her best friend, Simone, and a boy named Asher. Because once Cassie found the spear and accessed its powers, Asher is her “Guardian,” and the person who will save her from the power of the spear.
Gonzalez has filled both stories with nonstop action. The characters are in constant danger, constantly traveling all over Italy in their search for artifacts and clues. They also must evade those who would stop them: Simone’s powerful, grasping and avaricious mother, and those who protect the spear and the future.
In the end, Cassie must decide what is right. She has two strong friends who help her, but one of them betrays her. And speaking of betrayal, we should point out that Gonzalez does a fine job creating characters who are not perfect. Most of the “good guys” have at least a slight flaw, and most of the “bad guys” aren’t totally bad, with the single exception of Simone’s mother, who seems the very personification of evil.
Is the story over-the-top in terms of children saving the world with unbelievable brilliance and bravery? Surely. But will middle grade kids slurp it up like the most delicious ice cream on a hot summer day? Surely. It’s fun, it’s thrilling, and it’s a fast-paced story that begs to be finished quickly.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.