When four boys decide to spend the day exploring a cave, they have no idea that their fun afternoon is about to become a fight for survival
Neil and his best friend, Randy, can’t wait to explore a nearby cave for the afternoon. But when Neil’s little brother, David, finds out, Neil is forced to bring David and his timid friend Terry along for the ride. What starts out as an exciting expedition soon turns dangerous when the four boys get lost in the cave’s labyrinth of winding passages. Neil knows it’s not David’s fault that they’re lost, yet he still lashes out at his brother with every wrong turn, and Randy and David’s constant bickering isn’t helping to calm his nerves. As tension builds between the boys, Neil and David try to address what they’ve kept hidden for years: the truth about David that can never be forgotten—or forgiven.
Hopelessly lost, angry, hungry, and terrified, the boys are willing to do just about anything to find a way out of the cave before they end up killing one another. But to escape, Neil and David are going to have to figure out a way to put the past behind them and work together.
Four high school boys are lost for 24 hours in an underground cave in this suspenseful adventure story. Seventeen-year-old Neil and his friend Randy grudgingly allow Neil's younger brother, David, and his friend Terry to join them on a road trip into Florida's Ocala National Forest for an afternoon of spelunking. None of the boys has told his parents, much less asked for permission, and with only vague directions, few exploring skills and fewer supplies, it's only a matter of time before crisis strikes. How the boys ration food, plan escape routes, cope with injuries, snakes and other unfriendly wildlife all make for gripping reading, and the story could stand on its own as a tale of survival. But Sweeney (Shadow) goes beyond the action genre, bringing the characters' outside lives into the cave to add further depth to the proceedings. The looming possibility that they may perish enables the boys to examine and come to terms with some of their fears and hopes and, in the case of Neil and David, to iron out a painful, two-year-long misunderstanding. The four personalities are distinct and expertly drawn, the roles they take on in the cave natural extensions of their histories. Lean and skillfully wrought, this novel hooks the reader and doesn't let go. Ages 12-up.