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Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite
The Dirt Bike Detective by Douglas L. Hoover is about five middle school misfits and outcasts doing a paranormal investigation of Raven Ridge Academy, their castle-like, gargoyle-embellished school that is rumored to be haunted. They were brought together by a self-proclaimed paranormal expert newcomer, and dirt bike rider named Chase. What began as the group's initial goal of reclaiming their group member Oliver's confiscated antique pocket watch quickly develops into a fully-fledged inquiry into the peculiar events at their school, which turns out to be of significant concern as they meet some real danger that made their probing activities quite hazardous. As Chase's band of underdogs continue their investigation, they become entangled in a labyrinth of life-threatening trouble that imperils the impending visit of the US President to their school, which can even put the fate of the world in jeopardy. Will they be able to unravel the mystery in time to save lives and safeguard their future?
Douglas L. Hoover's The Dirt Bike Detective is a fast-paced, well-written, action-filled novel that has compelling and memorable characters that readers will love. The author's sense of inclusivity and acceptance, especially for those with physical imperfections or disabilities, and themes of friendship are seen in his relatable cast of irregulars. The characters easily engage readers, mainly because of their personalities and dispositions which range from being wildly imaginative and gullible to someone having a more realistic and rational mind. Listeners will simply enjoy cheering for these courageous underdogs whose tenacity and resolve erase the fear of going through anything to achieve their objectives. It's entertaining, written in the first person with Oliver acting as the storyteller and witness to the group's mishaps and adventures. This makes the reader step into the middle schoolers' somewhat naive perspectives, especially when the group strives to synergize their work and arrive at a tangible conclusion to solve the mystery. The author also keeps readers interested by including a lot of exciting hints, suspense, and occasional unnerving "other-worldly" events.
The audiobook is narrated by multi-award-winning voice actor Ramon de Ocampo, whose captivating and highly amusing style utilizes his talent to present a variety of articulate voices and accents that brings the characters to life and gives them a wider dimension. It was primarily written for Young Adult readers due to some sensitive themes and incidents that are tactfully touched on in the novel. However, this well-done and outstanding audiobook can also be geared toward younger audiences with some adult guidance.