Review Detail

3.0 2
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Kids Fiction 6705
Another winner from MacHale!
(Updated: August 03, 2013)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Tucker is shocked when an older football player on his team dies on the field, and his small island community takes it hard. When Tucker and his friend Quinn are out biking at night because they can't sleep in the wake of this event, they see a weird explosion right off the coast. They report it right away-- is it aliens? What is it? Tucker is approached by a man he has seen hanging about town, Mr. Feit, who offers him a new "nutritional supplement", Ruby, which he assures Tucker is just "salts and sugars".

Tucker takes some because he is having trouble on the football team, but he realizes that something that makes him feel that strong probably is really, really bad for him. When another islander dies, the island is occupied by SYLO forces after the U.S. president claims that the island is the site of a virus he doesn't want to spread. Tucker, Quinn, and their new friend Tori (who also saw the explosion) think that the deaths are tied to Ruby, not to a virus. They also suspect that SYLO is not telling them the complete truth, so they make a plan to escape. They are caught, and become even more concerned when they are kept in a SYLO compound.

Strengths: Love that this involved football AND an invasion. The boys wear helmets when they are biking, and they are good kids (if somewhat misguided). There is some nice, light romance, and Tori is an excellent female character! At one point, the coach uses the fantastic phrase "fiddle farting around". (Or fart-fiddling. Either way, it's a gret phrase!) There's nothing inappropriate, but it would be a great read for high school or middle school. In fact, there was a whole lot that I loved about this one, which surprised me. MacHale's work usually just confuses me, even though it's really popular with my readers. (Could not tell you what the Pendragon series is about to save my soul, even though I read it and have every student who finishes it try to explain it to me. Complete fantasy amnesia about it.) The best part is that I really don't know where this is going, and how everything will be explained, so I really want to read the next book!

Weaknesses: There were some deaths of key characters which surprised me a bit. Of course, since this is a trilogy and one of the people was vaporized rather than killed outright, maybe he will return.
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