MVP by Douglas Evans
This is a strange but fun book. "MVP" does not refer to "the most valuable player," but it does refer to a game--of sorts. Adam Story is a normal 12-year-old with a boring summer looming in front of him--until a odd caped man wearing a turban shows up out of nowhere to make him an amazing offer.
Adam is given the chance to circumnavigate the world--without using air transportation--in 40 days to win $4 million. The catch is--no one, including his mother, can know where he is or what he's doing except the people giving him this opportunity.
Being a normal 12-year-old, with no sense of impending doom or mortality, Adam says yes. But this is no "ordinary" amazing race, and Adam is apparently no normal 12-year-old. Keeping in touch with his working mom via the Internet and his cell phone, he races from his San Francisco home all by himself, no adult companions allowed, on this stupendous quest for a fortune. Along the way, he encounters "stoppers," teenagers hired by an unscrupulous sponsor of the race to stop the contestants and "trackers," legitimate contest personnel whose task it is to "interrupt" the contestants' progress. He also comes into contact with a rebellious side of himself as he doesn't always do what his team's sponsors request of him.
The premise here is intriguing--an "Amazing Race" for unaccompanied minors--and not a little unsettling. You send your kid off to summer camp, and you think he's at summer camp, but in reality he's somewhere outside Istanbul? Could that really happen? Every 12-year-old who thinks adventures like this would be a dream come true should enjoy this wacky story, but some will find it a bit disturbing.