Falkner, Brian. Task Force (Recon Team Angel 2)
September 24th 2013, Random House Books for Young Readers
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
I love book talking The Assault, because all I have to say is "If aliens come to Earth and want just a TEENY bit of Australia, just say NO!" And this is why. The Bzadian forces are waiting until the Bering Strait freezes so they can launch their final assault on the U.S. To combat this, the Allied Combined Operations Group brings out the teenagers that were physically altered to look like the aliens. Lead by Lucky Chisnall, they launch lots of attacks against the Bzadian forces, and Lucky comes up against Bzadian Kriz several times, in some intense yet amusing scenes. There is lots of good weaponry and fighting tactics, and a tremendous battle scene at the end. The best part, however, is the twist in the Epilogue-- I can't wait to see how that turns out in the (sure to be) third book.
Strengths: Lots of action, and a convincing premise about the alien invasion. Fantastic cover; the first book in this series is very popular in my library, so I'm thrilled to have a copy.
Weaknesses: Really? The aliens take over most of the Earth but have to wait until the Bering Strait freezes to get their heavy equipment over to the U.S. to finish the job. Really? They can't just, I don't know, fly in with their space ships? While waiting for the Strait to freeze gave the Recon Team something to do, and made sense from a land-based military strategic point of view, I just kept thinking "They're space aliens!" Maybe it's just me. The boys will still love it.
Pace, Greg. Project X-Calibur
October 31st 2013, Putnam Juvenile
Ben can fix just about any machine, but he feels that he doesn't compare favorably to the legends his now deceased father read to him. When he is approached by a weird little kid who turns out to be THE Merlin, he finds that he may be essential to saving the planet from Dredmore, aliens who are bound and determined to take over the Earth. A few select children have been identified for this role, and are needed to fly the reproductions of the alien spaceships. Under the guise of going to London for a science fair, Merlin whisks Ben off to be trained to fight and fly by none other than Percival Pellinore. Along with the buff Malcolm, Ben meets Kwan the surfer, Darla the claustrophobic gamer girl, and the somewhat reluctant Tyler. Also included in the mix of fighters is Ivy, Pellinore's daughter, who is very competent but whose father is reluctant to let her fight. Ben worries that he will once again be the least prepared student, but like the famous Arthur, he has hidden depths.
Strengths: Nice ensemble cast, good hook with Merlin and the King Arthur legend, and fast paced. Lots of action and adventure. Great cover. Sure to be a series.
Weaknesses: Would have preferred a stand alone title, and could have done without the subplot of Ben's father having passed away.