By K. A. Holt
Random House Books, $15.99, 263 pages
Mike Stellar: Nerves of Steel is a winner! This original story with surprising twists begins uncompromisingly in the future, depicting the protagonist as a typical, intelligent teen struggling with school and the reputation of his parents in the community. His mom’s and dad’s work whisks them and Mike suddenly off to Mars, only to find conspiracy and mayhem around every corner. With his sister Nita left behind, Mike befriends a strange new girl named Larc and notices his mom and dad behaving strangely, only to find out that his horrifying teacher has also joined this mission to space. Nita disappears soon after they take off, but he reaches her by com-bracelet only to have her broken message reveal what he thinks is Nita accusing their parents of sabotaging the prior mission and killing many people! Mike has to use everything he knows about terraforming planets, computer hacking, and plasma propulsion to survive this mission and save the day with Larc by his side. This is K. A. Holt’s first book for children, and she delivers. This reviewer is anxious for more Mike Stellar adventures and impressed with Holt’s exceptional grasp of teen angst and desire for respect and ultimate freedom.
Reviewed by M Chris Johnson