First line: "'Joseph. Don't sit down.'"
Veteran crime fiction writer Bill Cameron makes a stunning entry into the world of YA fiction with Property of the State, the first book in his Legend of Joey series. Joey Getchie is a foster child biding his time in the system until he can emancipate himself. As with many fosters, Joey's been bounced from family to family. Currently he's tolerating the Bobbitt family in order to attend Katz, an elite magnet school in Portland, Oregon, but he is coming to the end of his rope with his foster father who uses Joey's school computer to surf porn and his foster mother who is addicted to prescription pain killers. He's keeping his eye on the prize--early graduation--in order to make it through.
Joey's good friend Trisha is also a foster kid, but she's been with her family more long-term. However, Trisha's foster father has made it clear to Joey that he feels Joey is a bad influence and doesn't want him around. So Joey and Trisha see each other at school and their favorite coffee house, Uncommon Cup.
Joey's plan for early graduation and emancipation is threatened, though, when Joey and his foster father get into a physical altercation. Joey walks out and Wayne Bobbitt changes the locks. In a desperate attempt to hide the current situation from his social worker, Joey begins hiding out at the Huntzel Manor, the home of his classmate Philip Huntzel. Joey has a job cleaning for Mrs. Huntzel four days a week after school. He knows that one room is never accessed by anyone in the family--Kristina's room--so he hunkers down there and slips in and out of the house to attend school.
Joey's plan gets another jolt when his classmate Duncan is hit by a car and fighting for his life in the hospital. The police are looking for the driver of the car and their investigation takes them to Katz, and to Joey.
Property of the State is a YA novel that will keep readers of all ages engaged and enthralled. The characters are fully realized, dimensional, complex and fun. The story line is suspenseful, including strong plot twists and a mystery sure to keep readers guessing.
Cameron's humor is a bonus in this strong series starter. Joey, being an exceptionally smart teen, excels at the art of sarcasm. And his descriptions of riding in his social worker's car or meeting with his therapist are priceless. But Joey is also a typical young boy, baffled by and bumbling over his growing attraction for Trisha.
As an older reader, I found Joey endearing. His desperate need for solitude and quiet in his world of constant chaos, his desire to do the right thing--even when the universe seems to be conspiring against him--make him an empathetic character.
I'm ready to hand off Property of the State to my niece so she can read it and we can talk about it together. And then we'll both be eagerly anticipating the next Legend of Joey book.
Property of the State is available tomorrow in trade paperback (ISBN: 9781929345229) from The Poisoned Pencil. You can find it at your favorite independent bookstore or any of the following online retailers: