In the quaint town of Middleburg, an abandoned train yard and old railroad tracks form the dividing line between two rival gangs—the posh, preppie Toppers and the working-class Flatliners. When Raphael, the leader of the Flatliners, falls in love with Aimee, a Topper girl, the rival gangs prepare to do battle . . . but not with guns and knives. Their martial arts training dictates a strict code of honor, which all of the gang members adhere to. The only hope for peace between the rival gangs lies within the giant X formed where the railroad tracks cross. The awesome power contained in the X sends the Flatliners and the Toppers on a mystical quest to fight against malevolent forces that threaten the existence of Middleburg—and maybe the world.
Wow, I loved this book. I loved this book. I swear, it has everything; martial arts (action, action, action), romance, school plays, gangs, train tracks . . . Just wow.
First things first: I have never before read a book involving martial arts. I really loved that aspect of the book; I've always thought that martial arts was such an amazing thing to be able to do, and I reading about it was awesome. The descriptions of the fights and moves flowed really well, and all of the action scenes were easy to follow. I've always had some trouble with action books, because it can be really hard to follow full-out fight scenes on paper. For some reason, I've just never been able to do it. But in this book, I loved the action scenes! I looked forward to reading them, and I got really excited during Raphael's and Zhai's lessons with Master Chin. It was just so fun to read.
Character development definitely rocked, too, and I absolutely love Raphael. I swear, I can't get enough of that boy. I think that the bad aspects of his life--his father's death, his mother's job, being on the poorer side--made him really easy to connect to and identify with. And then there are so many characters that I couldn't help but so passionately hate, and I absolutely love that in a book. If there's anything a good book needs to be able to do is make me really, really mad. I could relate to Zhai and Raphael's ruined friendship, like I'm sure most teens could. I think that everyone has that friend that you lost to an outside reason, and really wish things could be better. Nass really made me laugh, and so did Dalton. Aimee was also fantastic, and I couldn't help but feel really terrible for her and her home life, or root for her and Raph.
Which brings me to the romance! Oh, the romance! Once you read this book, you can never go back. Raph and Aimee! I got so caught up in the book, praying for everything to work out. I loved their relationship, and I loved them as a couple. It was one of the most suspenseful parts of the books, actually, when you were so hoping that everything would turn out good for them, but you just don't know.
This book was, really, a summer action flick. It has everything it needs to be amazing, with kick-butt fight scenes, an intense romance, great characters, and awesome dialogue. Basically, it has a little bit of something for everyone. Look out for it on July 1st!
SIMPLY NERDY BOOK REVIEWS