Galaxy Gladiators: A Stellar Cadets Novel

Galaxy Gladiators: A Stellar Cadets Novel
Publisher Name
Shenanigans Press
Age Range
Release Date
January 11, 2024
Thirteen-year-old Kai Montgomery thought the biggest challenge he'd face would be his next martial arts tournament on the colony planet Kalifornia. That was until a cryptic alien crashed near his home, thrusting him into a fight far beyond his wildest daydreams. Armed with only his quick wit and a strange device handed to him by the dying alien, Kai finds himself drafted into the Galaxy Gladiators-a high-stakes interstellar melee where the price of defeat is death.

Trapped on a space station with no way back to Earth, Kai must adapt his martial arts prowess into mastery of a powerful mech suit to survive the brutal games. With the help of Celestia Xantherian, the alien tech genius, and Max Stratton, the human strategist, they form an unlikely alliance. Together they face fierce competitors like Zara Quillstar and the elusive Meriki 'The Shadow' Vexx, who may become allies or remain foes.

Under the guidance of Dr. Fionn O'Malley, Kai learns that the strange device could be his ticket home. But with Commander Throkk breathing down their necks, the newly dubbed "Stellar Cadets" must lay it all on the line. In a race against time, they must work together to overcome and outwit the commander's forces in a daring escape plan that will test their courage, strength, and friendship.

As the boundaries of loyalty and trust are pushed to the limits, Kai and his friends must ask themselves: What does it truly mean to be a gladiator? Join the Galaxy Gladiators, where every battle is a clash for survival and every victory brings them closer to home. Will they emerge as mere survivors or as heroes of the galaxy?

Editor review

1 review
Fighting for survival
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The book combines elements of science fiction with familiar details to make the story more relatable for young readers. In the opening chapter, Kai lives in Kalifornia which has sandy beaches along an ocean shore. He walks to his mom’s dojo after school where he practices martial arts and helps his mom instruct beginning students. After being transported to a space station somewhere among the stars, Kai is immediately given a translator so readers don’t need to learn any alien vocabulary from the strange characters. The author even has Kai buddy up with another human who helps him with fighting strategies.
The book contains abundant action as Kai is either training to fight or combating alien gladiators in the ring. A longtime, popular champion is killed in the first match which immediately lets Kai and readers know the possible, high-stakes consequences of losing. Most of the other fighters are larger, faster, or have more arms than Kai but his martial arts training may give him some advantages. Gladiators aren’t allowed to bring weapons into the ring but opponents’ large claws can still maim and execute just as well as knives.
Kai enlists the help of different characters who all share a strong desire to escape their captivity. One of his first new friends is an alien with flashing colors on her skin and a cheery disposition. Max is Kai’s fighting strategist and he's a technology expert. Another character has a unique fighting skill as she’s able to disappear and then reappear to deliver damaging blows.
What didn’t work as well:
The plot moves quickly but that’s because it lacks much story and character development. The fast pace will appeal to many young readers. Also, Kai frequently gives himself mental pep talks saying he believes in himself and he will succeed. The message itself isn’t a problem but it loses its effect when it happens way too often. The messages become redundant.
The final verdict:
The book has oodles of action and the fast-paced plot will appeal to emerging readers. It’s fun, entertaining, and I recommend you give it a shot.
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