Rex Zero has faced the end of the world before, but never like this. His family is moving (again), which only makes living during the Cold War all the more difficult. This time, however, Rex is determined to fight the move. Now a seventh grader, he has finally found a tight group of friends, and he is not about to let them go so easily. Nothing will stop him this time—or will it?
Hoping against hope, Rex builds a nuclear pile of lies as he refuses to give in to change. He doesn’t want to go to his new district school when his friends are going to Hopewell, and so why should he? He saves up money so he can secretly take the public bus to Hopewell, and he stays under the radar at home, which is easy when everyone in his family is acting crazy. Rex’s mom starts smoking and being super moody, Rex’s sister Annie Oakley appears to be keeping some serious secrets of her own and Dad disappears on business and cannot help ease the tension. Rex feels the tug of guilt, but no one is around to stop him.
Despite all of Rex’s cunning, his lies explode in his face. After he gets in a fight with Spew, the school bully, Rex’s devious plot is exposed and he finds himself transferred to his district school. He no longer gets to sit in class with his buds and cute Polly, and the transfer doesn’t keep Spew off his back. Rex finds that his initial lies have much greater consequences than he thought possible, and he is soon biking for his life through the neighborhood streets of Ottawa.
Tim Wynne-Jones’ final installment in the Rex Zero trilogy caps off Rex’s adventures with a bang. Rex Zero: The Great Pretender deals with some heavy issues, as do the previous installments, but the humor of Wynne-Jones’ writing makes the tough stuff easier to deal with. Although it isn’t necessary to read the first two Rex Zero adventures to understand the final book, tweens will want to read them all after enjoying the adventure and heart of Rex’s escapades in 1963 Canada.
A story where family and friends take a front seat to the impending doom of the rest of the world, Rex Zero: The Great Pretender is a boyhood tale that will capture the hearts and imaginations of young readers and parents alike.