First of all, let's talk about chaos theory a little bit. Have you heard of the 'butterfly effect'? It's the idea that small things can cause larger effects at a later time. Like a butterfly flaps it's wings in one part of the world and this sets in motion changes that will cause a horrific storm later in another part of the world. Chaos theory is a mathematical study of this premise. How does it relate to a debut YA mystery? Let me tell you.
Kami is a 17-year-old high school junior. She is very smart, maybe too smart. She is very good with data, not so wonderful at reading emotions. Kami likes to really think things through. She plays the flute in the band, wins science fair competitions, wants to go to MIT and also takes martial arts classes. She's running an experiment in her locker at school that relates to chaos theory. And she lost her grandmother to cancer recently. Kami has put up walls because she just can't think about her grandma right now. The feelings are much, much too big. Turns out Kami is pretty much a born investigator and this is the first book in 'The Kami Files'.
When Kami's friends, Sandy and Sam, tell her about Daniel, a new guy at their school whose sister, Julia, died recently of a drug overdose, she's not all that interested. However, she sees Daniel again at her martial arts class and hears more rumors that he's a dealer. As Daniel and Kami's paths cross several times more, she becomes convinced that Daniel is not involved with drugs. He's trying to find who gave Julia the drugs and he's working with the police as an informant. Eventually, Kami, Sandy, Sam, and another friend, Gavin, jump in to help Daniel and then things get really complicated.
I had a good time reading Chaos Theory. It was a little slow to start, but once things got up to speed, I flew right through it. Kami is a great character. She sounds very real, sort of an updated Nancy Drew or less blonde Veronica Mars. Her group of friends has a definite Scooby gang feel and they each bring strengths to what becomes a fairly sophisticated investigative team. Their time together takes them to skate parks, horse stables, and a pharmaceutical company, where Kami goes undercover as an intern. In actuality, Kami's locker chaos theory experiment moves from her locker to her life and she learns that small actions can have wide and far-reaching consequences for all.
I give this Young Adult mystery a two-thumbs up endorsement. I look forward to reading more adventures of 'The Kami Files' and getting to know her and all her buddies better. There is a short story starring the same characters called Politics of Chaos that has been published in a Sisters in Crime anthology and another entitled Elemental Chaos that will appear in the 2016 Malice Domestic Anthology.
Thanks to the author, Meg Dobson, who gifted me with Chaos Theory. I do appreciate it and will be glad to see where Kami and her friends take their investigative team in the future. I'll leave you with a quote. Kami is realizing what she and her friends can accomplish, even though they are 'just kids':
'I want to go back to looking down on the world--not connected to it or the people in it. That cold scientific data that I've hidden behind all my life has been cut away. I'm free-falling into the chaos below. This isn't about numbers and data. What we're doing is important. It isn't a scientific puzzle to solve anymore. This is about saving real lives.'