On the Free is a story about a group of troubled teenagers who are sent on a wilderness retreat together and face a crisis that will test their will to survive and their ability to work together.
Overall this isn’t a bad story. The plot line moves quickly, and the book is segmented into three sections with each being told from three different perspectives. I was a little disappointed that more time wasn’t spent in character development of the other three characters whose perspectives were not included. However, based on the target audience that also would have made the book much longer, and it wasn’t overly detrimental to the story as a whole.
The end of the story is extremely abrupt. In the last three pages a character reappears, is saved and then in the last paragraph completely tosses his entire MO, literally, across a stream. I would have loved to see a few more chapters tagged on to the end rounding the story out a bit more and addressing the change of heart. However, the need for closure is likely lost on younger readers.
On the Free is a good book for high school readers, especially boys who may relate and follow the tales of these teenage boys and enjoy the wilderness setting.
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Carolrhoda Lab
Profanity/Language: 10 religious exclamations; 42 mild obscenities; 7 religious profanities; 4 derogatory names; 46 scatological words; 50 anatomical terms; 2 offensive hand gestures; 20 f-word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: Bloody feet from blisters described and referred to numerous times; fall down muddy trail resulting is scrapes, cuts and bruises; an adult male and teenage male wrestle with no injuries; 2 instances of breaking and entering resulting in smashed doors, broken furniture and belongings and property damage; teenage boy recounts burning down a storage shed; 2 instances of fist fights with minimal injuries; teenager is swept away in mudslide; two teenagers and an adult killed in mudslide; teens injured in mudslide resulting in broken arm, scrapes, cuts and bruises; mock punching and slapping; teenager twists ankle falling over rock; fist fight resulting in moderate injuries, bruising, cuts and scrapes; teenage boy threatens with a loaded gun with resultant counter threat with knife; 3 page scene of killing and dressing (cutting apart and skinning) of deer for food.
Sex and Nudity: Reference to having sex; parent attempts to have sex talk with teenage son; teenage girl performs oral sex on teenage boy with no detail; 2 kisses between teenagers; 4 instances of teens stripping down to underwear to bath or swim in lakes/streams.
Mature Subject Matter:
Socioeconomic conflicts, death of parent, death of others on trip, robbery, illegal drugs, teenage (oral) sex.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Teenagers drink tequila; references to teenagers drinking at party; reference to parent using cocaine.