HarperCollins/Walden Pond. Aug. 2021. 384p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062985941.
Gr 5 Up–Anderson’s latest novel gives middle grade readers a futuristic coming-of-age space odyssey. After tragedy strikes, Leo and his family venture into the somewhat unknown, moving into a spacecraft run by the Coalition. Leo’s father, Dr. Fender, is an important scientist trying to make discoveries and hopefully bring peace to the universe. But when Dr. Fender is taken by the enemy, Leo finds himself locked on board with a scrappy band of pirates. On a mission to reunite with his family, Leo discovers that the universe isn’t full of simply good and bad people, but beings who, like him, are just trying to survive. Throughout the novel, Leo’s experiences with grief, fear, and moments of understanding make him relatable even while in space. This novel not only provides an otherworldly adventure, but a sincere tale about dealing with loss, finding bravery, and navigating the complexity of war. While this would make for a great read-aloud, there are darker moments and some action-based violence that will not be for every reader.
VERDICT A page-turning space adventure that deals with complex issues. Middle graders who like “Star Wars,” Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl, and Stuart Gibbs’s “Moon Base Alpha” series may also enjoy.

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