Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Study Train: Reunion of the Untouchables, Vol. 1 by Kurt Frenier

Ethan's life stinks.  A young teenager, he hates school.  He is one of those kids that are sought out, ridiculled, mocked and he has no desire to learn things like math, economics, science and more.  His home life is no picnic.  His dad, an unemployed car salesman, stays home all day taking care of the house and the cooking and his mom works two jobs trying to make ends meet. 

Ethan only sees his mom on the weekends, and his dad has strict rules and is always angry.  Ethan would rather take his chances at school then stay home all day, but he would much rather spend his time daydreaming and reading Shakespeare.

So, when an envelope flutters into his window one evening inviting him on a journey of a lifetime, Ethan leaps at the chance.  Once packed, a wooden train hovers outside of Ethan's bedroom window, waiting for Ethan to board.  There, Ethan will spend eight years studying and training; he will want for nothing.

It seems centuries ago, a man had a vision and he worked hard to bring it to fruition. The studytrain is the result; a vessel that carries the chosen ones for years while they learn and visit different cultures, visit different countries.  When they "graduate" they become leaders of the world, making a huge difference in the planet.

Ethan enjoys his time there, but when they visit Barcelona, he meets someone on the beach who invites him and his new friends to a nightclub.  Wanting to go, he and his friends break out of the bedroom window and go to the party -- having a wonderful time.  But when they return, they find the train gone.  It does come back for them, but Ethan has tasted the darker side of things.  And when he is made the new leader of the Untouchables, Ethan has to make some hard choices. 

This is a wonderful young adult adventure.  I really enjoyed the premise of the story and watching Ethan struggle with wanting something badly and having to make a choice of what to do.  Will his choices take him to the dark side or the side of the light is for you to read.  The author left the ending open, hopefully for another installment, which if it does transpire, I will be itching to read it!!


Born in Belgium, Kurt Frenier is a senior director at Pepsi Cola, and the author of children's and young adult books. He lives in Dubai with his wife, Sanne, and two daughters, Julia and Emilie. The Study Train is his first English-language young adult book.

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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