Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher

Zak and Ana. They shouldn't even be hanging out together, in Ana's opinion anyway. Just look at him: shaggy hair and his scruffy attempt at a goatee. He plays role playing games after school; he and his friends even wear goofy hats. And he's kind of a slacker.

Zak wouldn't mind hanging out with Ana. Even her frizzy hair is kind of cute. She's obviously smart. She does seem kind of uptight with all her extra-curricular activities, but that's why she should have joined in the war game with his friends when Zak invited her.

And how will fate bring them together? Zak messes up a health quiz and, to save his grade, he is forced to join the academic quiz bowl team on their trip to a competition. Ana is the captain of the team. Zak is not looking forward to it, but resigns himself until he realizes the competition is the same weekend as Washingcon, a huge sci-fi convention that Zak has never missed.

A weekend that should have been boring (for Zak) and satisfyingly successful (for Ana) turns into a mess when Ana's 13 year old brother Clayton (also on the team) decides the sci-fi convention sounds cool enough to see for himself. So he travels the few miles from their hotel to the convention center to see all the things Zak has been describing to him.

Zak has been warned not to leave the hotel and Ana's parents are way strict (to the point where she has no life outside of anything that will not help her get into college). Having to go in search of Clayton is a huge risk for both of them, but it's better than telling their teacher.

Their quest at the con is chaotic, dangerous, suspenseful and really funny. They are chased, attacked, insulted, many twists that you never know what is going to happen next. But through it all, Zak and Ana discover much about each other and that is really the story.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

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