Andrew Klavan shines with his latest young adult novel The Long Way Home. On several occasions, I had to hold myself back while reading this taut, thrilling mystery, and not skip ahead to see what happens next. The Long Way Home is a breathtaking page-turner. If you buy it for your kids and don’t read it yourself, you will definitely miss out.

This second in the Homelander series picks up pretty much where The Last Thing I Remember left off, but you need not have read Last Thing to enjoy The Long Way Home. Charlie West continues to wrestle with the year long blank spot in his memory, a period during which he was tried and convicted of murdering his best friend, escaped from prison, and got sucked into an Islamist terrorist network. Now Charlie must avoid both police and terrorists to get back home and clear his name.

Andrew Klavan’s latest grabs you at the opening, with a life or death knife fight in a public library’s bathroom, and never lets go. With this book, Andrew goes head to head with video games for kids’, and probably some adults’, attention and comes out on top.

Charlie’s matter-of-fact patriotism, fear – as in awe – of God, and chivalric love for family and friends may stand out for many readers. The qualities Charlie embodies stand in stark contrast to the morally relativistic, cynical and insulting history teacher, Mr. Sherman. Novels rarely portray the likes of Mr. Sherman, but everyone knows this character exists in the real world. That these elements stand out shows how painfully missing they are in much of today’s fiction, especially in Young Adult novels.

It is refreshing to read the adventures of a young man imbued with the values that inspired American’s prior to ascendancy of the Baby Boom generation. In a sense, Charlie reminds me of Howard Hawk’s Sgt. York. Charlie West is certainly no pacifist, and Sgt. York didn’t grow up in suburban America. Both, however, love God, family and country. Both must face and overcome through raw courage life threatening situations. Moreover, while York’s heroism came generations before Churchill’s speech, both embody that great statesman’s ideals, expressed in the quote Klavan includes in the book:

Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Andrew Klavan delivers a great story with gallons of action. His skill with tight description and dialog are on full display in his foray into YA fiction. The book’s target audience may be teenage boys, but folks of any age will will have a great time with this wild ride. If you enjoy a page-turning mysterious thriller, then do not miss The Long Way Home.