Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Voyagers: Project Alpha

Voyagers: Project Alpha
D.J. MacHale
Random House, 2015  219 pgs.
Grades 3-6
Science Fiction/Adventure
Voyagers Series #1

D.J. MacHale, best known for the Pendragon Series, pens a series opener sure to appeal to fans of The Thirty-Nine Clues series and science fiction in general. The earth is running out of energy. An energy source has been detected way out in outer space. The space travel involved in retrieval destroys adult metabolisms, therefore a team of young people must be assembled to travel to the distant planet and save the earth. Dash is a twelve-year-old hopeful. He is scrappy, smart, physically fit, and a team player. Plus, his single mother and sister could really used the prize money if he is selected for the team. Dash must complete with seven other tweens to be selected for a team of four. His main competition is Anna, a nasty competitive girl, who will do whatever it takes to make the team. Dash makes friends with some other contestant and they cooperate even though they are suppose to be competing against each other. Dash gets a crushing blow that could disqualify him from being selected, even though he is performing quite well. The cast of characters making up the team are revealed and we follow them along on a dangerous mission. Who makes the team? What happens to the kids who are not selected? Where are the young people sent on their first mission and what amazing creature do they encounter? Who are the stowaways on the ship? What secrets are the government keeping from the adventurers. Read this first exciting series installment to find out!

Designed along the same lines as The Thirty-Nine Clues and The Spirit Animals, the Voyagers series follows the same format: Different popular children's authors for each volume in the series and an on-line component tying in with the book. The on-line feature will be a draw and it is well designed, offering coding activities, games, and bonus features to kids, which appear to be realistic to the mission. Dash is a bit of a stock comic book character, as is the evil Anna, but this works for the adventurous tone of the story. He is truly a hero and likable in the bargain. The characters (with the exception of Dash) are diverse, including a girl in a high-powered wheel chair, who doesn't let her physical limitations slow her down in any way. The action never stops and surprises lurk around every corner. Readers won't be able to stop reading once they start and they will be naturally led to the next installment Game of Flames, released last month). The competition to select the team makes up the first half of the book, the training of the team is glossed over, and then the book cuts right to the first mission. One of the surprises is that to save the earth the team must actually get components from six different planets, which will lead to one mission per book in the series. A perfect choice for reluctant readers and science fiction nerds alike, this series is sure to be popular. The third installment in the series, Omega Rising, is set to be released on January 3rd.

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