Title: Friday Barnes: Danger Ahead
Author: R.A. Spratt
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Puffin
Published: 7th January 2020
Synopsis: School camp . . . what could possibly go wrong?
School camp . . . what could possibly go wrong?
Friday Barnes is forced to face her biggest fear – her own emotions! She must wave goodbye to Ian as he takes off to join his father in the Cayman Islands. But when your dad is a white-collar criminal, family reunions never go to plan. Ian is kidnapped en route and it’s up to Friday to rescue him.
On her return to school, the Headmaster has a treat in store – a four-week camp for students to learn wilderness survival skills! ‘Camp Courage’ is even worse than Friday imagined. And all her book smarts aren’t much help when she’s got wood to chop, potatoes to peel and latrines to dig.
Can Friday survive the great outdoors, debunk the legend of a camp ghost and make it back to Highcrest Academy alive? Only time (and a compass) will tell!
In typical Friday Barnes fashion, the sixth installment picks up directly after the events of book five – and in this instance, we get a little recap of the final scene before the current story starts. Friday is off to rescue Ian from a kidnapper, who has taken him a little distance away from the school. When they return, they are thrust into a four-week camp at the only camp that has agreed to take Highcrest students. Yet there is something about this camp that seems off to Friday, and the pranks and plans to thwart the camp start early – and those crimes are easily solved.
It is the camp counsellors who have secrets – and are perhaps over -compensating with their attitude towards the camp and students to attempt to hide what they are up to. But Friday, with ever-loyal Melanie, Ian and her campmates – Patel, Susan, Harvey, and Wai-Yi – will find a way to not only show that brains are sometimes more effective than brawn when it comes to survival skills, but uncover a dangerous secret linked to the camp that inevitably, see Friday in the midst of another mystery.
I related so much to Friday in this book with her disdain for camp and wilderness skills – we both struggle, and it was refreshing to see a book where the characters in varying ways do struggle with these skills – that just because they live in a certain place, or are of a certain age doesn’t mean they love to do these activities. Like one of my favourite television heroines, Temperance Brennan, Friday cleverly applies intellect and science to all she does with the support of her friends and Melanie’s translation and reminders at times to explain things.
The mystery in this offering is higher stakes than the last five novels – so it will be fun to see where the rest of the series goes and what crimes Friday uncovers and solves in books seven to nine. These are an excellent entry into the world of mystery for younger readers!
As the series moves on and we learn more about Friday, she also learns more about herself and what she can do. She’s also a great character because she is able to recognise her flaws and often quite bluntly states that she knows she is like that – often in amusing ways. The loyalty of her friends shows that she is able to work as a team and on her own – but her levels of knowledge far outpace the teachers as she tries to navigate the murky world of teenagers, high school and developing social skills she’s never really developed.
R.A. Spratt has used the well-known boarding school trope, which takes the students away from their parents, and the only adults around are often irreverent teachers, and at Highcrest, some are lazy, and would rather not work, which makes it a most entertaining high school, and one wonders how any work is ever done at times. In doing this, R.A. Spratt has created an entertaining series that shows everyone has flaws – even Headmasters who don’t want crimes around but secretly like Friday because of what she does for the school.
With three more books left (so far, I believe there is a tenth coming) to read, with book nine out early in February, I’m thoroughly enjoying this series and can’t wait to find out what happens next.