Just fourteen, Rick Walder is alone, on the run, and desperate. Stowing away in the back of a truck, he suddenly finds himself at a dead end, out in the middle of nowhere. The Maze. In this surreal landscape of stark redrock spires and deep sandstone canyons, Rick stumbles into the remote camp of Lon Perigrino, a bird biologist who is releasing fledgling California condors back into the wild. Intrigued by the endangered condors and the strange bearded man dedicated to saving them, Rick decides to stay on. When two men with a vicious dog drive up in a battered old Humvee, Rick discovers that Lon and his birds are in grave danger. Will he be able to save them?
In a heart-stopping adventure infused with the spirit of the Icarus myth and a boy’s dreams of flight, Will Hobbs brings readers a unique tale of identity, personal growth, and friendship.
What does it feel like to leap off a cliff and soar in a hang glider? To raise fledgling condors and release them into the wild? To outwit the sinister local yahoos who want to kill the giant, endangered birds? To be pursued at night in the red-rock moonscape of Utah’s canyon country? The Maze combines all these enticing elements in a strong coming-of-age novel steeped in respect and concern for nature that is a characteristic of award-winning author Will Hobbs.
With a sure hand for pacing and suspense, Hobbs tells the story of Rick Walker, an angry young runaway escaping foster homes and detention centers. Rick takes refuge in the wilderness camp of an eccentric naturalist, Lon Peregrino, who teaches the teen rebel how to care for the California condors under his care. Rick’s daring and initiative grow under Lon’s guidance as he masters driving a truck over hair-raising mountain roads and hovering over the maze of canyons on the wings of a hang-glider. But is his newfound manhood enough to confront the forces that want the condors dead? And who will help him sort out the maze of his life when the authorities catch up with him? Younger readers graduating from Gary Paulsen’s survival stories will be delighted to discover this adventure writer, while older fans of Hobbs’s Downriver and other wilderness adventures are likely to deem The Maze one of his best. (Ages 12 and older) —Patty Campbell