An engaging tale of reemerging dinosaurs and superb tween heroes.

ARKO

THE DARK UNION

In this middle-grade SF/fantasy debut, a group of bright kids makes a world-changing discovery in Mexico.

Ben, Ariel, and three of their friends, who live in Israel, are spending their summer vacations with their scientist parents in Yucatán. Ariel’s father leads a team researching Mayan priests, but it’s the 12-year-old kids who unearth a significant find. While off on their own, they enter a cave leading to a cylindrical machine. This seven-seater, which apparently runs on automatic pilot, takes the gang, which includes Amir, Gaia, and Abigail, to a room of amazing sights. Most astonishing is a collection of dinosaurs, from reptilian creatures in aquariums to Pterosaur eggs. The friends’ parents soon join Ben and the others, and the group surmises that the kids “activated” this special room telepathically. So when the Pterosaur babies hatch, the youngsters wear EEG helmets to link their brainwaves with the dinosaurs’. Each tween chooses, names, and ultimately rides a Pterosaur, as the five reptiles soon learn how to fly. Though the parents wisely keep this discovery a secret as long as possible, dangerous people track them down and demand specifics on the dinosaurs. Leo’s series opener features a diverse cast of adolescents, including Native American Gaia and Russian immigrant Abigail. They’re each intelligent and much more levelheaded than the adults. The parents, for example, often bicker and grumble—scenes that the tale plays for laughs, such as a scientist telling her peers they’re “acting like babies.” The author shrouds the narrative in ambiguity as characters piece together myriad theories from a “series of assumptions,” hoping to explain everything that’s in the room. This entails a wide range of entertaining possibilities, like aliens and varying religions. An added menace amps up the story’s latter half when an environmental message slowly comes to light. Nevertheless, most readers will guess who the villains are well before the reveal.

An engaging tale of reemerging dinosaurs and superb tween heroes.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 325

Publisher: Ultra Particle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2022

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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

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PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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