Martin, Laura. The Ark Plan (Edge of Extinction)
May 10th 2016 by HarperCollins
ARC from Young Adult Books Central
What's worse than being an orphan? Being an orphan in a dystopian world where scientists have brought dinosaurs back to life only to have them bring viruses with them that wipe out a huge chunk of the population and contribute to the downfall of civilization! Sky Mundy's mom died when she was born, and her father disappeared on a mission five years ago. She is being grudgingly raised inside the North Compound, one of the underground communities where survivors have banded together and kept some semblance of civilization going for 150 years. Sky has never really been outside, since most people who go outside are soon attacked by dinosaurs and killed. When she finds a letter from her long-gone father, however, she decides to follow the instructions in it and travel to Lake Michigan to see if she can find her father. Her best friend, Shawn, who only has an aunt to care for him, decides to go with her, and the two venture out into the treacherous world together. Luckily, they soon make the acquaintance of Todd, whose small community has found a way to live in trees and survive dinosaur attacks that way. Unfortunately, the forces behind Sky's community manage to track her down and attack Todd's community, taking everyone who lives there away. The three children are left alone with limited resources to survive and solve the mystery of Sky's father.
This gets big points for a fresh, new dystopian vision that involves dinosaurs in an intriguing way! There are not enough middle grade books that involve dinosaurs, and many readers who thought of nothing else in first or second grade are always glad to see an adventure book for older readers involving this passion! I liked how the tree dwellers and the underground dwellers were largely unaware of each other, and the challenges faced by both groups were very different, but equally chilling. Sky and Shawn have a nice friendship, and the addition to their group of Todd, who has completely different skills and a different outlook, makes the adventure more interesting.
I really liked the descriptions of the underground compound and the details about every day life within it. In that way, it had some similarities to Stuart Gibb's Space Case or DuPrau's City of Ember. Readers who liked Baldacci's The Finisher, Hughes' A Crack in the Sky or Mikaelsen's Jungle of Bones will appreciate the adventures in the wilderness, and readers who want dinosaur books will be thrilled to help Sky identify the types of dinosaurs that are attacking!
There is most likely a sequel to this-- crucial information about Sky's past and her father's activities are mentioned late in the book, and the group's mission isn't finished by the time the last page is breathlessly turned!
Rylander, Chris. Crisis Zero
February 2nd 2016 by Walden Pond Press
ADORE this series. However, I checked out a digital copy from the Ohio E Book project, read it while recovering from foot surgery, and didn't get around to writing the review for a week. No concrete memory other than I enjoyed it, although the second one was slightly better because they went to Mount Rushmore. Definitely purchasing to complete a fantastic series.
Side note: Several of my students were trying to get books for the summer from the public library and weren't at all happy that only e books were available. This was a title our public library ONLY bought in that format. On the other hand, students who can never get to the library in the summer but who have smart phones were THRILLED to learn about the Ohio E Book project, even though I believe I HAVE mentioned it before now. A few dozen times. My students prefer "actual books".