Science fiction combines with a juiced-up history lesson in this peculiar but charming novel. Students of history will enjoy rummaging through the pile of cultural references and spotting differences between Earth and Eratha: on the latter, the Venus de Milo’s arms remain intact, and, instead of the mad king George, the even more tyrannical Groghor rules an England threatened by global warming and wealth inequality.
It’s fun to cheer on Gallin and Alexine as they snipe at their obnoxious siblings (“You may be marrying the prince someday,” Alexine says to Ra-Alex, “but I’m willing to bet you’re about as popular around here as head lice”) and embark on intensive combat training while discovering psychic powers, though characterization is limited to what will drive the plot. The book’s clunky elements are balanced by combat in anti-gravity belts, the wacky machinations of the king and his enablers, and the leads’ interactions with Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.
Takeaway: A spoonful of suspenseful science fiction makes this YA American Revolution history lesson go down smoothly.
Great for fans of Jasper Fforde, Gail Carriger.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B