This science fiction book by Evan Angler is the second in the " Swipe" series published by Tommy Nelson, a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson Inc.
Sneak is written for kids ages 7 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Leading up to book two: Logan Langly's world is set in a futuristic time after natural disasters have led to unrest, and epidemics and battles have led to the Total War. American leader Lamson and European Chancellor Cylis implemented a period of Unity. They lumped all world religions into a patriotic belief system called Inclusion to ensure that a Total War would never happen again. Now, the government monitors citizens by Marking them at age 13. The Mark allows them to get jobs and buy food; it entitles them to other societal privileges, too. Those who remain Markless out of protest become outcasts and are relegated to lives of poverty. A government agency called DOME (Department of Marked Emergencies) handles the Marking process and keeps an eye on the Markless.
Logan began questioning the Marking system five years ago, when his sister, Lily, disappeared on her Marking day. DOME said she died, but Logan wasn't convinced. As he neared his own 13th birthday, Logan felt sure someone was following him. His new friend Erin Arbitor, the daughter of a DOME agent, helped him corner and confront the stalkers. But upon meeting the rouge Markless leader, Peck, and his followers, the Dust, Logan learned that these people, those he thought were his enemies, were really his allies. Peck revealed the government's plot to rid the nation of people, like Lily, who didn't fit in or might rebel. Logan also learned that Lily had been Peck's best friend. Logan then attended his Marking ceremony in an attempt t to obtain classified information about his sister. He narrowly escaped but learned Lily might be alive in a city called Beacon. Peck vowed to help Logan find her.
In the second book of this series, Logan is on the run. He moves cautiously through camps of the Markless, as they've all heard about a boy whose escape from his Marking ceremony prompted DOME to crack down on them. Logan's friend Hailey finds him on the streets. They rejoin other Dust members hiding on a farm run by sympathizers. Logan, Peck and the others learn Markless people across the country are communicating with each other via crude, pre-Unity radio transmitters. The sympathizers also tell them about The Unmarked River, a sort of Underground Railroad to help Markless escape the cities. Meanwhile, Erin Arbitor has been helping her father gain intelligence about Logan and the Dust. She helps DOME raid the farmhouse. Logan, Peck and the others narrowly escape. Logan's and Peck's groups become separated, but both teams head toward Beacon. They watch for The Unmarked River symbols so they'll know which people and areas are safe.
The groups endure separate but harrowing journeys to Beacon, where they're reunited in a former nuclear reactor-turned-Markless-camp. They search the city, but they still can't figure the location of Acheron, the Markless prison where they believe they'll find Lily.
After Logan and the Dust escape from the farm, DOME fires Erin's father for his incompetence. He and Erin move back to their home in Beacon with Erin's mother. Erin knows, based on information she illegally obtained from DOME headquarters, she needs to help Logan. She learns how to get inside the Markless camp. Peck, Logan and the others aren't happy to see the girl who betrayed them. Erin begs them to listen to her information, and she helps them realize the prison they're seeking is underground, directly beneath them.
Logan and a few other Dust members infiltrate the prison. They find Lily, not in a horrible cell but in a peaceful setting. They learn the government brainwashes all dissenters, or people who have flunked their Marking exam. These young men and women then become willing soldiers in a secret army the leaders are creating to destroy the Markless. Lily is so brainwashed, she hands Logan over to the guards.
Peck and the Dust realize they need a distraction to get back in the prison and save Logan. They send a message over the radio waves, urging Markless everywhere to rise up and demonstrate. When the Markless respond countrywide, coming to the city centers in droves, the government is forced to dispatch its secret army from Acheron. Peck and the others, aided by Erin's computer-hacking skills, then enter the prison and rescue Logan from his computer-simulated torture.
Those who are a part of the Dust are encouraged when they see Markless communities rising up. At the same time, Erin tells them about a larger problem for the government and the Marked. Erin has discovered that the shots given to pledges during their Marking ceremony were supposed to be an inoculation against a deadly disease. Instead, it has made the Marked sick, creating what may soon be a horrific plague. The government has managed to keep the plague a secret, just as it hid the existence of Acheron and its army even from the Marked. Erin knows she may soon get sick. Logan, who received a shot before escaping his Marking, secretly wonders if he's in danger as well. As Dust members prepare for a new chapter in their fight, Logan suggests that maybe Lily isn't a traitor at all. Maybe she's infiltrated the ranks of the government's army and positioned herself there with a nobler purpose in mind.
The Mark the citizens in this story receive is similar to the biblical mark of the beast, in that it is required for buying and selling (Revelation 13:17), and it is imprinted on people's hands or foreheads (Revelation 20:4). A few older Markless folks quote Scripture, usually from Proverbs, about wisdom. Logan's grandma tells his parents she's not surprised by the state of the nation; it's like what she's been reading in her Bible in Revelation for years. (Logan's father harshly rebukes her for speaking exclusionist talk in his house.) Alone in her room, Grandma holds onto her cross-shaped necklace and prays that she'll find a way to help her grandchildren.
Some of the younger Markless have found banned books from pre-Unity times, including Bibles. Many, like Peck, read about God and His Son and believe these stories may be true. Logan gets excited when he reads the Bible someone gives him. He tells Hailey it's been banned because it's filled with stories of people who took the hard path in life and risked everything for their beliefs. He's convinced leaders Cylis and Lamson have forbidden people to learn pre-Unity history and religion because it is inspiring, and they want to keep controlling people's decisions with their propaganda.
One Markless lying on the street holds a sign saying she doesn't want pity, because the meek will inherit the earth. Erin hears another Markless man singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" and thinks he's going to get himself shot for singing exclusionist songs out in the open.
Those who help Markless flee call themselves fishers of men. Markless who need to identify safe helpers are to cautiously draw half of a fish in the dirt with their feet. A true fisher responds by drawing the other half.
At the Markless camp in Beacon, Peck points out a group of Christian believers to Logan. He explains that the Bible Logan is carrying is the book Christians live by, and it tells about God sending His Son to die for us so we can live with Him forever. He promises to talk more about this with Logan after the current crisis is over. When Logan is being tortured in the Markless prison and is tempted to surrender his beliefs, he talks to God and asks for help.
Other Belief Systems
Logan lives in a time (post-Unity) when world leaders have outlawed all religions. They practice Inclusion, which Logan calls a bland system that mainly preaches patriotism and peace. The leaders try to convince citizens that a single-nation world will mean they never have to worry about war again, that they will never suffer from fractured cultures or incompatible views but will have complete unity. The government tries to rid the nation of anyone who expresses too much individuality or dissatisfaction, as they could cause problems down the road.
Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at ThrivingFamily.com/discuss-books.
Lying/Stealing/Crime: Many Markless lie and steal to survive. Erin and another Markless boy hack into computer systems. The boy initially does this to make money; Marked people pay him to erase things they don't want the government to see in their files. Erin hacks into DOME files to learn more about the government's plans and the location of Acheron. She throws a pretend crying fit as a distraction to gain access to a top official's private file drawer.
Parental disrespect: Erin often sneaks out of the house. Several times, she belittles her father to his face for his incompetence at his job.
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Readability Age Range
7 to 12
Tommy Nelson, a registered trademark of Thomas Nelson Inc.