Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak

Young Adult - Action
134 Pages
Reviewed on 08/13/2013
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak is a young adult coming-of-age novel by John Funke. Jerry and Benny Banks are heading out for their first solo camping trip. Their father, who usually accompanied them, felt it was time they went out on their own while he vacationed with his wife. After promising repeatedly to be careful and take care of his younger brother, Benny, Jerry sets out on the road, but he doesn't go to their traditional camping spot as he promised his folks. Jerry's got a better idea: a secluded lake that he's been to with some of his pals for late-night parties. On the way there, Benny and Jerry notice a number of cop cars and then a stopped car with a man waving them down. The man points to his companion who is lying on the ground and begs them to take him to the hospital. Benny, the more cerebral of the two brothers, offers to call the cops for them and is hesitant to allow them into the car, but Jerry, the good-natured and somewhat more innocent jock, opens the doors and lets the man and his suddenly well friend into the car. It seems the police were hunting for escaped prisoners, and Jerry's private camping area is the perfect hide-out for them.

John Funke's thriller, Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak, is a well-crafted and highly entertaining novel that will appeal both to the targeted age-group and many adults as well. The plot is credible, and the action never flags. There's a cat-and-mouse struggle set up between the captors and Benny, the younger of the hostages and a remarkable tactician in the making, that's a lot of fun to watch.

I really enjoyed Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak and would love to see a sequel with further adventures of Benny and Jerry, or at the least, more fiction from author John Funke.

Bil Howard

When teen brothers Ben and Jerry set off alone together on a camping and fishing trip, they are a little at odds with each other. Younger brother, Ben, is always being harassed about being a nerd by his older, jock brother, Jerry. Ben is upset because they aren’t going to the place that they told their parents they were going. On their way to the camping site, they are stopped by a couple of escaped convicts who trick the boys into taking them into the woods and tending to their needs while they hide out from the police. One of the convicts, Ron, is ruthless and abusive, not only to the boys, but also to his partner, Wally. However, he soon discovers that he is no match for younger brother Ben who uses his most powerful muscle, his brain, as he fights back against Ron’s brawn.

Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak, by John Funke, is a well written story which demonstrates the power of brains over brawn. It offers a plot line that is suspenseful and realistic. The development of the characters is first rate. The emotional and psychological response of each of them is clearly evident as each contributes their own particular personality to the resolution of the conflict. This is a story that has the reader rooting for the little guy and cheering his efforts when he wins, while groaning whenever he loses. The reader will be eagerly turning pages to find out what will come next on the way to discovering whether the underdog will ultimately win. Excellent writing and an excellent story.

Maria Beltran

Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak by John Funke is an entertaining coming-of-age novel. Clyde Banks, Jerry and Benny’s father, permits his two sons to go camping without him for the first time. Jerry takes advantage of this rare opportunity and disobeys his parents by taking his brother to a place they don’t normally go. Benny argues with his brother but Jerry is determined and promises to protect him. On the road, two men attempt to stop their car and pretend to ask for help. But it is too late; the boys have already been kidnapped by escaped convicts, Ron and Wally.

This story is apparently intended for teenagers. The main characters are teenagers themselves; Jerry is seventeen and Benny is fifteen. Ordeal at the Old Ivy Oak is actually easy to read and you can even finish reading it in one sitting. It has a simple plot and two interesting teenagers who are very different from each other, facing a difficult and challenging situation. There is nothing grand about the premise of the story but how the two boys handle the situation is a real gem that the readers need to find out.

John Funke provides his audience with a story that does not need to be gruesome, just intriguing. Of the two brothers, I love Benny more and I am surprised at how he manages to come up with a clever idea that will determine their fate. This book is a must-read for young and adult readers so that they realize there is always a way out in any difficult situation.