EKHO by Marie D. JonesTen-year-old Elvis Jones is tired of being picked on, taunted, and teased by the bullies at his elementary school, so he does what any smart, technologically brilliant kid his age would do: he creates EKHO, the Evil Kid Hunting Organization, a sophisticated network of kid spies and secret agents that utilize a variety of cool gadgets to stay one step ahead of the enemy – the bullies. They hire kids, make them swear allegiance to the organization, and train them as Commandos, Privates, and Elite Spies. As kids rise through the ranks, the missions, posted on an encrypted EKHO website, require more smarts and skill, especially when the bullies form their own counterspy group called DEKE (Destroy EKHO Kids Everywhere).
It’s all in good fun, until the kids of EKHO must put their pretend skills to use for far more serious, and dangerous, missions. As field agents come across evidence of more sinister forces, they now have to deal with the strange, weird, and the unknown as they look for the truth about the bizarre and creepy threats to their school, their families, and their own lives. They experience betrayal, intrigue, infiltration and counter-espionage as well as teachers and adults who act more mysterious with each passing day, which leaves Elvis and his EKHO team wondering: who can you trust when the person standing next to you might not be entirely human?
Marie D. Jones is a best-selling author with an extensive background in unknown mysteries, metaphysics, science, and the paranormal. She has been featured multiple times on the History Channel in Ancient Aliens and Nostradamus Effect. Marie also served as a special UFO/abduction consultant for the 2009 Universal Pictures movie, The Fourth Kind. She is a staff writer for FATE Magazine and Intrepid Magazine and a regular contributor to Paranoia Magazine and New Dawn Magazine. Marie has been interviewed on hundreds of radio talk shows all over the world, including Coast to Coast AM, and has been featured in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and online publications, internationally. She has lectured widely at major paranormal, new science, and self-empowerment events, and is the screenwriter and co-producer of 19 Hz, a paranormal thriller in development with Bruce Lucas Films.
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Elvis saw who the voice belonged to, and every hair stood on end, including hairs he didn’t even know he had.
Billy Bradshaw stepped out from behind the hedges bordering the golf course and stood twenty yards behind Elvis.
Elvis debated the distance. He could outrun him to the condo entrance, but beyond that was anybody’s guess. Plenty of people were around to witness it if Billy tried something stupid, which, knowing Billy, was entirely possible. As Billy slowly walked towards him, Elvis decided to stand his ground. He had to. He was an EKHO Elite and if Jordy could go down with a split lip for the cause, he could certainly take some heat.
Billy stopped ten feet away from Elvis, sweating and pale. Billy cast glances over each shoulder and seemed spooked. He spoke barely above a whisper. “Dude … can we talk somewhere private?” He panted.
Either the walking had done Billy in, or he was scared crapless about something. “About what?” Elvis asked.
Billy checked for watchers again.
If he had joined EKHO, Billy could have used the rear vision sunglasses and could stop craning his neck every few seconds. Elvis held back a snicker. Of course, Billy wouldn’t join EKHO because it had been started because of kids like him.
The kids in the park, the golfers, and the runners were all oblivious. Even the dogs couldn’t give a crap about the strange conversation between bully and bullied going on just yards away.
“Dude, there is strange stuff going on, and I don’t like it.” Billy moved a bit closer, and Elvis took a step back.
“What kind of strange stuff?” Elvis asked, and his voice shook a little.
Billy closed his eyes, and bit his lip, as if trying to decide whether he should continue. “With DEKE. Strange, just … strange. Joe … Santana, something is up with them. I can’t explain it, but something is strange.”
*I was given this book for a blog tour which does not in the slightest affect my honest review of this book*
My opinion of this book was a bit unusual. My feelings weren't mixed, but they did occupy both sides of the spectrum. There was a lot that I loved about EKHO, but at the same time I had some issues with it. I would also like to point out that this is my first Middle Grade-esque book I've read since Everlost by Neal Shusterman. Which while that doesn't affect my rating, it still changes the way I rate the book as I am looking at different literary elements.
What I loved about EKHO was the humor, and how much the author made sure we knew it was a modern book. When I say that, I mean that there were references to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Redditt. There was also mentions of Gangnam stye, Calls of Duty, and HTML coding. While some people may think that will date the book which means it will never become a classic, I think that because of who the book revolved around, and the voice that told the story, that referring to modern culture was a perfect decision.
Another issue some might have with EKHO is that it is an extremely unrealistic story. Not many people could pull off being the head of an anti-bullying organization, run a professional website, and tweak toys into being high-tech superhero-like gadgets, least of all an ten year-old that isn't even five feet tall yet.
While I did read an ARC of this book, and understand some of it was taken out, there was way to much swearing, including uses of the F-bomb a number of times. When I was in fourth grade I didn't even know what the F-word was, let alone how to use it in common discourse.
The last issue I had with EKHO was that there seemed to be a lot of hype in the blurb about these "more sinister forces", "bizarre and creepy threats", and experiencing " betrayal, intrigue, infiltration and counter-espionage as well as teachers and adults who act more mysterious with each passing day " There was some of this going on in the book on top of the bullying, and yes it did definitely seem mysterious and creepy, but at the same time I feel that the author(s) set us up for such a big, and (in MG terms) cool discovery Elvis and his friends could make. Besides a few things being slightly off with some teachers, and the new girl Santana, there wasn't much that would suggest something even bigger was going on, especially something 'not human'. At the very end however (at the excerpt above), there was a huge turn of events that was the final climax that tells me to go and read the sequel, and I'm praying there is one.
I was in love with both the cover and the title for EKHO (although autocorrect wasn't) because it fit the mood and tone of the story perfectly, making the book feel very futuristic and cool, like there was this big foreboding evil force that these kids had to overcome, which in a sense, there was.
I have to admit, by the end of the book (or page four), I was in love with Elvis Jones. He seemed like such an awesome person that is not only technology-savvy and academically smart, but on top of that he had a 'heart of gold' (how cliché of me). Elvis was valiant, courageous, compassionate, empathetic, humorous, and basically everything you would want in a boyfriend, except for the fact that he is only ten (which is a bummer because then I would have called him my new book boyfriend).
EKHO had one of the cutest romances I have read in a long time. Elvis has been crushing on Kayley since the second grade, and he experienced everything that a ten year old boy running an anti-bullying organization should. He stressed out over whether Kayley was a distraction to his goal, and his friends teased him about how he was giving her special treatment. The Middle Grade feels of this romance were amazing, except for the fact the Kayley kissed a boy on the cheek who was not Elvis.
EKHO's ending was very good, if not a little expected, but the conversation between Billy Bradshaw and Elvis gave us, as the readers, a good thread to hold onto for a possible sequel. I honestly can't wait to read the sequel (I'm praying there is one).
Conclusion: I loved the book EKHO because of its humor, originality, modern references, and how the amount of suspense kept my interest the entire time I was reading it.