Sunday, January 22, 2006
Klass, David. 2005. DARK ANGEL. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374399506 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]
Seventeen-year-old Jeff Hastings’ worst nightmare comes true when his older brother Troy is released from prison on a technicality and returns home. Jeff’s life has already been turned upside down when his family was forced to leave their hometown when Troy was convicted of murder. Keeping the family felon a secret just adds to the usual stress of high school for Jeff, and he finds himself alone in his opinion that Troy is still an evil person, capable of another murder. “Evil, I thought to myself. Nothing can excuse violent cruelty. Evil does exist, and I had seen it up close, and the only thing to do is to lock it away.” Jeff’s life turns to one of total fear, and when a rival of his disappears, he is convinced that Troy is responsible.
The battle of brother versus brother, good versus evil, is played out as Jeff struggles to convince those around him that Troy has not changed. Klaas creates suspense by offering glimpses here and there of Troy’s good side. Although a glimmer of doubt is created, readers will still find themselves rooting for Jeff to trust his gut instincts about Troy. Secondary characters enhance the drama unfolding, as the boys’ fragile mother spirals further and further into mental illness as a result of the stress and their father desperately hangs onto a blind faith that all will end well. Despite a slightly unbelievable instance at the end wherein Jeff remains loyal to Troy, readers will enjoy the suspenseful pace and edgy storyline of DARK ANGEL.
Challenge readers to think of what constitutes good and evil. Use Mr. Tsuyuki’s class discussion from pages 89 to 93 of the book to prompt discussion about whether evil is inherent.
Other books by Klaas:
HOME OF THE BRAVES. ISBN 0374399638
YOU DON’T KNOW ME: A NOVEL. ISBN 0374387060
SCREEN TEST. ISBN 059048592X
DANGER ZONE. ISBN 0590485903
By Tammy Korns