Review: Back Before Dark

A detour through the park leads Cooper, Gordy, Hiro, and Lunk straight into a trap, and Gordy is abducted!
For the kidnapper, it’s all a game, a way to settle an old score, with no one getting hurt. But evil has a way of escalating, and once his identity is discovered, the rules change.

Despite the best of police efforts, the hours tick by without a clue or a ransom call, leaving everyone to their own fears. Gordy is gone. Cooper descends deeper into a living nightmare, imagining the worst for his best friend and cousin. Hours stretch into days, and talks of a memorial service begin to surface. But Cooper still feels his cousin is alive and develops a reckless plan, changing all the rules. Now the one who set out to rescue his friend needs to be rescued himself. Sometimes rescuing a friend from darkness means going in after them.

I had a feeling before reading this that I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as Code of Silence, and you know what… I was right. I didn’t hate the book by any means, I just don’t think it lived up to its predecessor, mainly because it dragged on.

Back Before Dark starts off pretty fast-paced. Gordy’s kidnapping happens right at the start of the book, there’s no real buildup toward it. He’s just suddenly taken, and then the race to rescue him begins. Cooper, Hiro, and Lunk take things into their own hands again, hoping to help the police find Gordy before it’s too late. But over the span of a few days, Cooper gets restless and reckless in desperation to find his cousin. 

Once again, it was fun to take the adventure with the teens to figure out who had taken Gordy and figure out this mystery. While I admired Cooper’s perseverance to find his cousin, he was also a bit out of control with his ideas, which included baiting police to search a person he suspected and breaking into another’s old house. He definitely was going off the deep end, which is plausible as Gordy is family and one of his best friends, but also… why weren’t the parents on more of a high alert when one kid was taken? 

On the other hand, I loved Hiro and her not being afraid to speak her mind. She outright told Cooper he was acting crazy with his ideas, and meanwhile tried to find safer, legal ways to help with the search for Gordy. She put her amateur detective skills to use to narrow down the search, which did in fact help in the end. I just admired her character as someone so young who’s strong, smart, and determined. I loved Lunk’s involvement and wanting to be a good friend to Cooper because of how Cooper accepted him into his group, and I loved the banter with Lunk and Hiro and how their friendship developed in the story.

The main issue I had with this book was the pacing. It started off good, but I felt like the whole book just went on too long. It hit spots where I felt like those particular chapters weren’t needed, and there was a bit of repetition that just got old as I was reading. 

Overall, it’s a decent middle-grade mystery novel, it just needs to be a bit shorter in my opinion. 

Rating: 3/5 stars

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