In this children’s drama, a lonely, awkward boy reluctantly swaps the gaming world for a real-life adventure in the woods.
Vincent’s life at school is challenging. His dyspraxia makes being organised for lessons difficult. He keeps his head down and mostly succeeds in remaining invisible to his peers, spending his playtimes and lunchtimes alone and dodging unkindness from mean girls like Scarlett, and the self-appointed class-clown, Josh.
Vincent finds solace in his favourite computer game, where he can succeed and collaborate on adventures with virtual companions. He wishes his parents would let him play all the time, rather than forcing him to go outdoors and try sports and be more like his angelic older brother.
Vincent’s worst nightmare comes true when he is put forward by his teachers and family for the Wilderness Warriors weekend. He can think of nothing worse than spending a weekend back-packing through the woodland, especially when Scarlett and Josh are signed up, too. Fortunately, the fourth member of the crew is Lena, who has social capital similar to Vincent and is mysteriously skillful with maps!
The foursome is a strange one and seems unlikely to function, especially in the stressful environment of Fortune Mountain, where they are accompanied by much more professional (and willing) groups of children from other schools. However, just when Josh’s antagonising and Scarlett’s obnoxiousness appear to be reaching boiling point, Lena unveils her secret motive and the group are forced together in a shared effort to find some treasure!
The third act has the feel of Indiana Jones or The Goonies. It adds excitement, energy and genuine peril that readers will enjoy, and introduces a devious villain. Though the change of pace is welcome, the treasure-hunting scenes are not the highlight of the story. Much more compelling is how the children’s individual stories are slowly revealed through minor details and conversations. Vincent learns that he might not be the only kid in school who is hiding who they really are, and that even the meanest people in the world might have hidden depths.