Westerfeld, Scott. Horizon.
December 27th 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the treeline
When the plane in which they are traveling is in a freak accident, a group of children are stranded in a rain forest. They are confused, though, because their plane was not traveling anywhere near a tropical climate. Even weirder is the fact that eight of them, as well as the plane, land in the forest, but the rest of the people (including the teacher of a group of them who are on their way to a robotics competition) are missing. Still, there is little time to think about this as they attempt to survive in the wilderness. They find an antigravity machine that draws attack birds to their vicity, find food that isn't poisonous (after finding some things that are), and learn to get along with two girls who speak only Japanese. How will they figure out what has happened, and will they survive?
Strengths: Great cover, decent adventure, and multicultural and effective ensemble cast. There is also an online game that goes along with this, which might attract some students. Seems to be available in jacketed hard cover, and part of a seven book series.
Weaknesses: While the mystery and science portions of this were okay, the survival aspect wasn't terribly new. I would definitely buy this if it were a 3-5 book series, but seven? That's a big investment, and I'm just not sure about the appeal of this one. The gaming aspect has little impact on my students-- they've never gotten into the 39 Clues or the Trackers online platform.
What I really think: Seven books. I am so entirely weary of series, I can't even begin to explain. At least this one is probably coming out in a short span of time, unlike books like Diane Duane's Young Wizards series which has been published from 1983-2016.