Dark Life, by Kat Falls
The earth’s oceans have risen up and swallowed most of the land, driving humans to pioneer underwater. Ty was the first to be born underwater, now sixteen with plans to own his own (underwater) land eventually. But pirates have been attacking, driving the topside commonwealth government to pass along all responsibility to the pioneers to apprehend the criminals. Meanwhile, Ty has met a young girl his age, who is looking for her brother. Gemma was raised Topside. But her brother has been trying to make a life for himself underwater. Ty decides to help Gemma, but they soon find themselves in the way of the deadly pirates, who have secrets of their own.
Falls has created a fantastic and incredibly vivid world of underwater adventure and sea life. Ty is a brave and unusual boy, who feels he has to hide his “dark gift” with good reason. The story is fast-paced, imaginative and action-packed. This is a science fiction novel geared toward middle readers, but genre fans of all ages will enjoy. I came in with low expectations, not thinking I’d enjoy a story where a civilization lives underwater. But I was more than impressed with the worldbuilding and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Even if sea life isn’t your thing, Dark Life is a smart, fun and exciting read.
Star Trek: The Children of Kings, by David Stern
When Captain Pike and the crew of the Enterprise investigate a distress call from a remote station, they find the Federation base destroyed with no survivors. According to the sensor readings, Klingons attack the outpost. And while most of the crew is quick to condemn them, there are a few who question the findings. Soon, another distress call lures the Enterprise to an Orion ship, but it lies within Klingon space. And tensions could lead to war.
This early crew of the Enterprise are young and still getting to know each other. The camaraderie has yet to be developed, and Stern does an excellent job of introducing them all. The most well-known characters – Spock and Pike don’t get as much “face-time” as others. But I wasn’t disappointed. The story mostly revolved around the Orions and the Enterprise’s doctor, and in true Trek form, gave us moral dilemmas on top of everything else.
Fast-paced and incredibly engaging, The Children of Kings is a fascinating look at the Pike era as well as a deeper focus on the Orions. Combining drama, action, and intrigue, this story won me over quickly. This Star Trek fan was completely satisfied and impressed.
Star Wars: Crosscurrent, by Paul S. Kemp
Jaden Korr is a Jedi Knight who decides to follow a vision from the Force, leading him to someone calling for help. Getting help from a salvage ship, Jaden and the crew discover more than they imagined when they find a five-thousand-year-old ship. The dreadnaught has traveled through time and space, along with its crew of Sith and one vengeful Jedi. And the cargo itself is even more dangerous than the ship’s crew.
It has been years since I’ve read a Star Wars tie-in novel, so I thoroughly impressed to find I was able to jump right in to the story. The characters are well-developed and relatable. And the character glossary at the front of the book came in handy with the strange names that seemed confusing at first. And with the benefit of a universe already revealed in the movies, not much background is needed in the tie-ins. So, talented authors, like Kemp, can concentrate on a creative story and vivid characters.
This Star Wars novel is packed with suspense, drama, and The Force. What could be better? With plenty of twists and surprises, the story gathered momentum to an exciting and climactic finish. It was highly entertaining and completely engaging. This fast-paced, action-packed adventure should appease any Star Wars fan.
Cheat the Grave, by Vicki Pettersson, is the 5th book in the Sign of the Zodiac series.
Joanna Archer is now a mortal, having given up her powers to save a young girl. Her troop has abandoned her. Now, all she has are her socialite friends, from her late sister’s life. But when she left the Netherworld, she made enemies that don’t care if she can’t fight back. They want her dead. Her only hope lies in a rogue group of former shadow and light troop members, the gray that both sides despise.
Jo/Olivia has grown and changed incredibly through the course of this series. Though, this latest change has left her feeling worthless and helpless. Another big change is that Jo has come to care for her sister’s friends that Jo used to despise. She discovers that they are true friends, loving her for who she is, not what she can do. There are also some shocking revelations involving some of Jo’s other relationships that were the highlight of the story for me.
Because Jo is without powers, she doesn’t get to do the butt-kicking in this installment. And the focus is more on drama, relationships, and staying away from those trying to kill her. That’s not to say the story ever slows. There is no haven or safe place for Jo any longer, so she’s constantly on the move, taking help from whomever she can. And along the way she makes some self-discoveries that change her perception. Ending in a big showdown, with a big surprise, Pettersson certainly delivers in this latest exciting installment.
The Rise of Renegade X, by Chelsea M. Campbell
Damien Locke is excited about his future as a supervillain like his mother. But his plans are spoiled when he learns that his bloodline is tainted. Over 16 years ago, his mother had a dalliance with a superhero years ago that led to Damien’s existence. When his father finds out, Damien is sent to live with his superhero family. This is a fate worse than death for Damien, surrounded by do-gooders and trying to hide his parentage from those closest to him. But he soon realizes that his superhero family and a new friend aren’t as bad as he thought. Then Damien discovers a plot to turn everyone that’s not a supervillain (superheroes and regular people alike) into mindless zombies, devised and to be controlled by his own mother. Damien has to choose between his dreams of being a supervillain or turning his back on his mother and best friends to become a hero and save those he has grown to love.
Damien Locke is a 16-year-old with a mildly vengeful spirit, but ultimately leans toward good in every situation he is put in. Campbell’s world is one where supervillains and superheroes with special powers are commonplace. But the so-called villains are merely more than the cartoonish variety, with visions of taking over the world and thievery but rarely truly evil. Damien’s relationships with his mother and friends are just like normal, fairly healthy genuine relationships. They just hate superheroes. So, it’s not much of a stretch when Damien has heroic tendencies. And he begins to realize that it’s not your ancestry that makes you a hero or villain, it’s the choices you make.
The Rise of Renegade X is pure fun from beginning to end. The humorous pranks that Damien pulls, his quirky personality, and everything he learns along the way makes for a character worth reading. With plenty of excitement, drama, laughs, cool gadgets and superpowers, and a bit of romance, this young adult science fiction novel is a must for comic book and superhero fans.
Instinct: Chess Team Adventure, by Jeremy Robinson, is 2nd in the series.
The Chess Team: King, Queen, Knight, Bishop, and Rook are all back in a new adventure, even more heart-pounding than before. An outbreak of a deadly epidemic that is aimed at the President sends the team to Vietnam. They are joined by scientist Sara (codename: Pawn) who is charged with finding a cure for the fatal virus. But they are not alone in the jungle. Ruthless Vietnamese are waiting for them. And a far more deadly and monstrous enemy will stop at nothing to make sure the team doesn’t make it out alive.
Robinson’s special ops team put through the ringer in this latest installment. Members are shot, stabbed, mauled, electrocuted, and branded – just to name a few. They are tough and brutal with their enemies, but are humanized with a sense of humor and concern for their fellow teammates. Faced with impossible circumstances, these individuals work miracles.
As in the previous novel, Pulse, the action reads like watching a movie. With heart-pounding suspense and stomach-churning violence, Robinson has topped himself with this one. Amidst scenes of intense suspense, the complex plot unfolds slowly with some surprising results. This action-packed thriller was extremely enjoyable and impossible to put down. Ending in a mild cliffhanger, readers will be eager for the next in this exciting series – I know I am.
The Golden Spiral, by Lisa Mangum, is 2nd in the Hourglass Door Trilogy.
Danta is stuck behind the hourglass door of time, and Abby must build a new one to get him back. Time is running out for Dante. But Abby’s present reality keeps changing around her. College acceptances, boyfriends, and even her family have been shifting realities. And only Abby seems to remember. And to make matters worse, the barriers of time are breaking down, threatening chaos. Help is offered to Abby from unlikely allies, but she’s not sure who she can trust.
It’s been over a year since I read the first installment, so it took me a while to remember what was going on and who all the characters were. A summary of what happened before would have been nice. Otherwise, I recommend waiting to read these back-to-back. After a while, the characters and story began to make sense. And I was able to jump back in and got pulled into the story.
Mangum has created a truly unique world where time and reality can be controlled. And the vindictive Zo has a destructive agenda. Suspense and drama build throughout the course of the book to a climactic ending. And a wonderful mystery revolving around Abby’s friend and a former conspirator of Zo’s, kept me drawn in and wondering. Young adult readers will find this a satisfying continuation of a science fiction drama, slowly unfolding. This sequel leaves off in a cliffhanger that will leave readers eager for the third and final installment.
The Golden Spiral releases from Shadow Mountain Books on May 10, 2010.
Song of Scarabaeus, by Sara Creasy
Prodigy Edie Sha’nim was trained at a young age to program technology called biocyph. But when she is kidnapped by mercenaries wanting to exploit her gift, she is given a taste of actual freedom away from the forced labor of the Crib government. Edie is assigned a bodyguard, Finn, who has no choice in the matter. But the two must work together to fight for their freedom against the mercenaries and the Crib.
Creasy has created a fascinating universe of advanced technology with debatable repercussions. Edie and Finn have great chemistry and are a bit of an “odd couple,” being complete opposites. Edie is naturally submissive and highly emotional. Whereas, Finn is stoic and rebellious. With subtle description, the characters and landscapes jump off the page. And within the first few chapters, I was pulled into the story.
This was a highly impressive science fiction novel from a promising new author. The technology was described enough to seem believable, yet not enough to get bogged down in explanation. And its blend of technology and moral ethics was surprisingly fresh. With plenty of mystery, danger, suspense, intrigue, and alien life – fans of the genre will definitely enjoy this exciting debut. Ending in a mild cliffhanger, readers like me will be eager for a sequel.
Song of Scarabaeus will release from Eos Books on April 27, 2010.