Tesler, Monica. Bounders.
January 5th 2016 by Aladdin
EARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Jasper has always known that he was bred to serve in Earth Force. His parents had the genetic characteristics that had been bred out of most humans, so both Jasper and his younger sister are able to "bound" (sort of like tessering-- moving through space and time more quickly), so he is sent off to an academy to study when he is old enough. There, he makes friends with the very knowledgeable Cole and the spunky Lucy, and learns more about what is expected of the group. He is assigned with his friends (along with the obnoxious Marco and the differently-abled Mira) not to the Pod being instructed by celebrity aeronauts, but to the geeky Waters and his assistant Gedny. As a group, they compete in challenges against other groups, and learn how to use gloves Waters' designed to "bound" without a space ship! There are, of course, aliens, bullies, cool gadgets, and secret government conspiracies concerning wars in which the Bounders will have to fight. After dampening one threat on Paleo Planet, the group is to come back in two more books, and Jasper's sister Addy will probably soon be joining them.
Strengths: Jasper's parents are alive and supportive, even though he doesn't see them! There's a lot of scientific explanation, and people wanting diversity in abilities will find it interesting that the Bounders seem to be either working with ADHD or possibly Autism Spectrum related challenges.
Weaknesses: I'll buy this one, and it was perfectly fine, but it seemed a bit reminiscent of Voyagers, MINRS, and several other newer science fiction titles that I've seen.
What I really think: A large part of my problem was that I was a bit appalled that now the world is not only at the mercy of tweens, it is at the mercy of socially inept tweens! Had trouble buying in to the breeding of Bounders part of the world building.
Northrop, Michael. The Stone Warriors (Tombquest #4)
January 5th 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Alex and Ren end up in Vienna, having gone through a portal in a tomb. They have to let Dr. Todtman know where they are, and have to figure out a way to find Alex's mother, who unleashed a plague of Death Walkers on the world in an attempt to heal Alex. The two manage to find out more about her scholarly work, and know that she was doing work on Hathshepsut, and try to locate other people who worked with her. The Order must be stopped before the entire world is taken over, and Alex and Ren have many adventures, but still have one more book to go before they solve the mystery and avert disaster.
Strengths: I like this series, I really do. The books are action packed, a decent length, have great characters in Alex and Ren, and include Egyptian mythology. But...
Weaknesses: This is why I am tired of fantasy. Always some mythical threat that only children can conquer in order to save the world. Ho, hum. I guess I haven't turned into a 12-year-old boy after all.
What I really think: Will buy a copy and recommend it much more enthusiastically than I read it. I don't think that any of my students ever do the online components of these books, although the publishers seem to spend a lot of time on them.