Urey, Gary. Pursued
February 28th 2017 by Albert Whitman & Company
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Axel and Daisha have been on the run for six months, ever since their scientist parents were gunned down by the evil scientist, Dr. Lennon Hatch. Hatch wants the kids Geoports, devices their parents constructed that let them travel quickly through space, and intends to use them for evil. After six months of evading Hatch's goons, the two end up at home, exhausted. They try to figure out what is going on, but Axel is soon snatched by Hatch. Luckily, the Geoports can only be used by the person for whom they were programmed, but the Geoport can't help Axel if it's locked up. After being separated, the two get back together and try to figure out how they can short circuit Hatch's plan. This ends up involving a trip to a super magnetic spot in India, where Axel and Daisha plan on following their parents' cryptic instructions and keep the technology away from Hatch.
Strengths: This had a good science-y feel to it with the Geoport working on magnetic power, and LOTS of chase scenes and action, including crawling through heating ducts. Axel and Daisha's relationship is nice, and it's easy to get caught up in their life on the lam. Solid middle grade book.
Weaknesses: This one made me uncomfortable for several reasons. Hatch is referred to as "Dr. Stain" because of a port wine birthmark on his face. That's bad enough, but the birthmark is occasionally inflamed and painful, which I'm not sure is something that actually happens to people with the skin condition. Maybe it does. At one point, Daisha lands in a field near Mt. Vernon, Ohio, where she meets a boy who comments on her dreadlocks. It's as if he has never seen them before-- he says her hair looks dirty. I live an hour from Mt. Vernon. I have friends there. They know what dreadlocks are in that area. Finally, I was deeply uncomfortable with the whole "Indian mysticism" that abounds in the last part of the book. It's not mysticism; it's a religion. While I liked the action in this, the somewhat off bubble depiction of other cultures outweighs that for me.
What I really think: I agree with Kirkus and Rachel Anne Mencke's School Library Journal review on this one.