December 3, 2009

Review: Explorer X-Alpha by LM Preston

From Goodreads

For most kids, a trip to space camp is the trip of a lifetime for Aadi it was life altering. After receiving a camp immunization needed for travel to Mars, Aadi finds that the immunization is the catalyst of an insidious experiment. He realizes what is happening too late for a change of fate. The full experiment is set in motion when he and his co-pilot, Eirena, crash in a distant galaxy called Shrenas, where they change and realize the full extent of their power. This turn of events forces him to grow up quickly, accept his change, and to decide to save a world, or to do what he was trained to do dominate it. His power is coveted by the warring leaders of Shrenas, and he is forced to choose sides a decision that may prove just how much humanity he has left.

My Review

In terms of appeal to 7th graders this book as a lot going for it.  Aadi goes to space camp, but it isn't space camp like we know it.  I think kids will love all the advance technology at "camp"- virtual games where they feel like they are in another world, flying amazing ships (yes spaceships) and using cool gadgets we only wish we had in our world.  They'll also enjoy the fast pace of the story and how the kids in the story take control  and do what they want or need without the help of the adults around them.  Aadi and his friends are smart, focused and willing to go into the unknown to find answers.  Remember though, they are kids and they made mistakes along the way. Mistakes that take them into situations they never imagined.  In the end, the reader is left wondering how they'll get through their current crisis. 

My issues with the story - and remember these are coming from an adult reading a story that is intended for 12 year olds.  I found the story had some holes or places that weren't fully explained.  Now I know part of the story is Aadi and his friends learning the truth so you can't have all the answers, but some things about Aadi's past were not explained fully enough for me to understand what happened and why. Another part of the story that was not as strong was when Aadi and Eirana crash onto another planet.  This changed the story competely.  I would've liked to have had more suspense and answers on the ship first then the new story line.  It almost made it seem like two different stories.  Lastly and this is completely an ADULT issue, the kids seemed really focused on beating each other up.  Over and over they threatened to beat someone up and often times acted on that threat.  That seemed to be how they dealt with a situation they didn't like - threaten or hit the other person.  I deal with the physicalness of 7th graders and I don't want them thinking this is ok.  Now they'd probably tell me I was over-reacting, but it is how I saw it.

Final thought - 7th graders will enjoy it, but it's not really one that will cross over to adults.

Best for ages: 11-14