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The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos – review
Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter.
But routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years.
With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever.
Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn’t a war left to fight.
What I expected: I expected a middle-grade science fiction adventure with aliens.
What I got: I got pretty much what I expected, a little more in that it seemed to have a touch more depth to it than ‘do good’ and a little less in the way of friendship development which is generally a giant slice of the story’s pie in middle grade fiction. There was a touch of dealing with friendships and the overarching moral of accepting people as they are, but I felt that they got short shrift here.
What I liked: I liked that the kids being the lead in the adventure was done realistically instead of just there for the sake of story. I liked that there were definitely some surprises to the story, and I was genuinely interested in how it all would end.
What I did not: I felt that the first scene was extremely off. There is nothing wrong with a harmless prank done in fun, but this prank was not harmless – even if it had not gone off the way it did. It made the narrative feel false. I also did not like the instant knowledge imparted near the end; it did not feel realistic to me.
Cover Talk: I generally love middle grade covers. They are usually lots of fun and full of interest and artistic merit. Unfortunately, I just can’t like this cover. The people look like awkward blends of cartoon and realism. The image shown, along with the title, gives me the feeling that I’m about to pick up a book about kids who try to steal a planet.
Recommend?: This is not a bad little middle grade adventure. Get past the initial scene and have no qualms about instant knowledge, and you will definitely enjoy the book.