Search This Blog

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Review: The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos

The Planet Thieves
by Dan Krokos 
Children's Fiction , Sci Fi & Fantasy
This won the Hal Clement (Golden Duck) Award for YA SF fiction.

Cadet Mason Stark boarded the SS Egypt with seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command. It was supposed to be a routine trip, so he sneaked off to where he wasn't supposed to be to pull a prank on his sister. Except suddenly there's a red alert indicating the Tremist were near. The Tremist were aliens who had been at war with humanity for sixty years.

Stark is caught and sent to the brig. A friend springs him as the battle isn't leaning toward the humans. He, Tom, and Merrin grab projectile weapons and sneak up on the Tremist kind who is gloating over the vanquished humans, demanding to know where the "weapon" is. The cadets launch into battle but their weapons have little effect. The king's armor just seems to absorb the energy. All seems lost, but Mason has a few tricks up his sleeve and gets a Tremist suit of his own. Can he and his cadets be enough to turn the tide against the Tremist?

I picked this one for its fantastic pulpy title alone. Pure genius. It's a thrill a minute--perfect for readers who want high-impact, high energy narratives.  Here's a sample to get a feel for it:

Tom waited for them in the elevator, holding it open with his arm. “Get in!” he hissed. 
Just as the talon stopped cutting into the wall. 
“Shh, quiet,” a man’s voice said from down the corridor. “Listen.” But Mason knew there could be no men left; the chuffing sounds the P-cannons made had faded to silence. So who had spoke? It didn’t matter: facing the Tremist unarmed would help no one. Mason and Merrin padded toward the elevator as quietly as they could. Now he wanted to run, but their footsteps would give away their presence. 
Then the ship’s computer, Elizabeth, said, “Cadet Renner, please stop blocking the elevator door.” 
Mason and Merrin jumped into the elevator and spun in time to see three Tremist charge around the corner. They were at full sprint, faster than he thought men could move. Their plate armor shimmered wetly, shifting between purple and black, catching the sterile light of the spaceship and making it alien. Mason saw his own face in the flat mirrored surface that was the leading Tremist’s faceplate. 
Tom had moved his arm, but the door was still open. They were only thirty feet away now. 
“Shut the door!” Mason yelled, pressing himself against the wall. 
“Thank you,” Elizabeth replied airily, and the door began to shut. 
The three Tremist paused when they realized they wouldn’t make it in time, and then lifted the talons to their shoulders. The soldier part of Mason’s brain, the part that didn’t get afraid, noted the angle at which the Tremist held their weapons, how, in the next second, each beam would slice through them at the breastbone.
The door sealed; Mason dragged Merrin and Tom to the floor as the talons’ green beams crisscrossed through the door and heated the air above them until it was crackling. Then the car descended, giving the illusion of the beams rising up through the door until they disappeared through the ceiling. 
The air was hot and baked and smelled like electricity. 
Image result for The Black Stars The Planet Thieves, Book 2 By: Dan Krokos noble "excerpt"The door opened on the next level down, into a corridor identical to the one they just left.  
Tom had his dataslate plugged into a port on the elevator. “Erasing our destination level . . . now! Bought us a few minutes.” 
Merrin took the pad out of his hand. Her fingers danced over the screen until it flashed red. “There—the elevator is frozen.”
I loved it, but did wish for a little wider scope or canvas. There is some bogus science here--about a planet throwing off the balance of gravity in a solar system, but oh well. The novel's a blast and hopefully it will encourage kids to stretch their imaginations and maybe investigate the sciences.

There's a second book in the series where Mason is on edge of getting kicked out of Academy II for defending cadets from bullies. Fun stuff. Fingers crossed that more in this series are forthcoming.

No comments:

Post a Comment