Book Review: Unleashed by Liz Coley

Tor Maddox #1
Liz Coley
CreateSpace, May 2015
ISBN 978-1508860808
Trade Paperback

From the author—

When sixteen-year old Torrance Olivia Maddox, self-confessed news junkie, figures out that the mysterious and deadly New Flu is being spread by dogs, she has one question—if the danger is that obvious to her, why hasn’t the government revealed the truth and taken action? Her search for the answer will take her farther than she ever imagined. But then again, she never imagined that man’s best friend could become public enemy number one, that men in black might show up in her cozy suburban neighborhood, that she’d spend her sixteenth birthday as a teenaged runaway, and that her effort to save one dog would become a mission to save them all.

It all starts when Tor reads a conspiracy blog without really paying attention. It sticks in her mind, though—does this blogger really think dogs are spreading pestilence and the government is covering it up? Why haven’t her beloved news venues mentioned anything about this strange new flu and its possible connection to man’s best friend? Surely her beloved Cocoa isn’t about to become an enemy  of humanity!

Tor is a teen I’d like to call my own although she really is almost too good to be true. Intelligent, pretty, comfortable in her own body, bighearted, kind, enjoys learning vocabulary, so forth and so on and, yet, she doesn’t come across as a goody two shoes. Tor does have a few failings such as being a bit headstrong and not always recognizing potential consequences but, after all, she’s not yet 16 years old so I think we can forgive her occasional lack of wisdom. She also has  a terrific friend, Sioux, and her brother, Rody, is a rather cool guy as brothers go. Then there are her parents who named their children after the places where they conceived said children—TMI indeed 😉

At first, Tor just follows what little news there is about the flu but everything takes on a much more ominous tone when her dad tells her about the first death in the hospital where he works. After the Men in Black show up on her doorstep and the CDC calls for doggy quarantine, Tor begins to morph into a bit of an avenging angel in defense of Cocoa and the other dogs in mortal danger. One twist follows another and Tor’s search for truth and justice soon leads to some very uncomfortable answers.

Ms. Coley has taken a serious idea and leavened it with just enough humor and fast pacing to make it highly entertaining as well as full of suspense and I think I’m going to have to read some more “adventures of Tor”. Lines like this will draw me in every time:

“Side bar. Actually, a lot of us ask this question
regularly. What were our parents thinking?”

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2015.