New Fiction Friday: Fuzzy Mud

9780385743785_p0_v1_s192x300Fans of Holes and Louis Sachar will love his latest work, Fuzzy Mud. Deep in a secluded forest in Pennsylvania, near a small private school called Woodridge Academy.  There’s something strange going on in the woods, and no one seems to be aware – or even know that something has happened. Only when some of the school’s students get lost in the woods, does anyone know that something is going on. And at that point, it’s already too late. This is a thriller, centered around a biohazard that seems impossible to contain.

In between the chapters are excerpts fron secret Senate hearings. In these hearings, a scientist disccuses his experimentation and development of an alternative fuel. The experimentation phase had been kept secret from the government, and basically from anyone outside the top-secret project. The project began at SunRay Farm, which was a few miles away from Woodridge Academy. Most of the students and the residents of the area didn’t know about the farm. They would soon find out though.

The “fuzzy mud” is a byproduct of the experimentation taking place in the lab on that farm. The mud is discovered when friends Tamaya and Marshall decide to take a shortcut through the woods on their way home from school. Marshall wants to take this shortcut after being confronted and challenged by class bully Chad. Instead of avoiding him, Chad follows them into the woods. There they encounter each other, and the biohazardous material.

Called biolene, it was developed by scientists as an alternative energy source. It sounds promising, though no one seems to know it’s true potential.  One of the scientists who spoke at the Senate hearing warned against using the substance, predicting that it could be potentially dangerous. He actually called it “an abomination of nature”. Instead of a clean energy source, he describes it as a high-energy bacteria, a new form of life, a substance that continues to reproduce at a very rapid rate. This makes the substance almost impossible to control.

I love this story, once the kids encounter the mud in the woods, it was really hard to put down.  It’s a reminder to us, and kids, that there are consequences and potential side effects.  I’m sure there are many places like Sun Farm, which makes this story even more believable.  I know I’m staying out of the woods!!

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