Published March 20th, 2012 by HarperCollins Australia
But Kirra wasn’t listening. “But . . . but when are you taking me home?” she spluttered.
“If you are good and you help us, there is the possibility of some day being reunited with your family.”
Kirra’s throat seemed to close up. Her chest felt as though it was collapsing, as though she were being crushed beneath several tonnes of concrete.
“Some day?” she choked quietly, a single, traitorous tear threatening to spill. “If I’m good?”
Kirra Hayward – a sixteen year old Australian school girl – is doing homework when she stumbles upon a website called ‘Crack the Code!’. Somehow, in a way that even she cannot describe, she does indeed crack that code. But after an anti-climatic submission of her answer, she more or less forgets about it. That is, until one week later, when strange men kidnap her, drug her and fly her to somewhere in the northern hemisphere.
The men are a part of a worldwide crime syndicate – ‘contractors’ available to hire for any purpose you wish – called the Industry.
Left alone in a cell until the men need her to unlock more codes, Kirra waits in vain for someone to come for her. When she refuses to crack the strange Spencer Code, Latham – the leader of her captors – is more than happy to persuade her using torturous methods.
Soon enough, Kirra finds herself sharing the cell with a young English man, who is also able to crack the Spencer Code. After forming an alliance, they plot their escape.
It isn’t until Kirra does escape that she discovers just how large the Industry actually is, and how important her role in their world is. She is a much sought after commodity – being one of only four people in the world known to be able to translate the Spencer Code – and getting home is looking like more of an impossibility every day.
“You know, I really don’t think you have an appropriate appreciation of the scope of the Industry. It’s organised. It’s old. It has regulations, rules, traditions and resources. We need no one but ourselves.”
What a surprise The Industry turned out to be. It is compelling, exciting and very easy to get into. Rose Foster is a great new talent – I cannot wait for the rest of this series.
Kirra is bit of an outcast. She studies maths and science at a grade two years above her own and doesn’t really have or want any close friends at school. She lives with her well meaning parents, sweet little brother and insufferable younger sister – and doesn’t fit in that well at home either. Of course, when she is taken she is desperate to get back to them.
I found it quite intense reading the beginning because Kirra is so sure that her family or the police are going to come for her, and you just know that that’s not the case. Her captors are professional Industry members who make people disappear for a living – a teenage girl will be no problem for them.
I liked Kirra as a main character – she is brave, mature and level headed. And as the plot expands, you see her evolving and changing into a different version of herself. There are lots of other characters too, who are introduced in chunks throughout the novel – though it never becomes too much for the reader.
I would recommend this to any fans of young adult fiction who like a bit of action, thrills and globetrotting.