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The Pledge of Three: The Z.O. Chronicles - Book One    by Greg Andrew Smith Amazon.com order for
Pledge of Three
by Greg Andrew Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Lucky Press, 2005 (2005)
Paperback
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Categorized as a mystery, The Pledge of Three, first in The Z.O. Chronicles, is more of a young adult urban fantasy. While waiting in the dentist's office where his mother works, Zack Owens finds a mysterious paper in a book on Medieval history. Not sure if he believes the paper is from 1347 like it says, he is still intrigued by the pledge it describes.

The directions for making the pledge claim that if it is said together by three friends one smart, one athletic, and one simple one of the trio will achieve fame, one will stay the same, and one will die. Zack and his two best friends, Jason and Josh, decide to take the pledge. Amazingly, it appears to work, as shortly afterwards Zack's mom hits the lottery. Later that evening, though, tragedy strikes, and a friend is killed. As things unravel, Zack learns that he may not have known as much about friends and family as he thought he did. The mystery in the novel concerns whether or not the pledge, the fantastic crux of the story, is real or not. While Zack does seek to understand why things have happened as they have, many of the answers he receives simply give him a better understanding of his own life.

Smith has written a very engaging story that leaves enough questions unanswered to make the reader eagerly anticipate the next in the series. However, the writing is not without pitfalls, one of the major ones being logical discrepancies. For example, Zack mentions going to a bingo game when he was seven in the 1980s, but later he mentions that he was born in June of 1988. Though this might not phase some readers, it really irked me as these inconsistencies kept popping out. But while some points of the novel do not jive with one another, Smith has written an engaging urban fantasy that will appeal to young adult readers (I recommend it to 13-15 year olds) and leave them salivating for the next installment.

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