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Maybe it'll turn out to be someone who writes midgrade scifi thrillers that capture that pulse-pounding excitement you remember from your Have Spaceship Will Travel and Postmarked the Stars days.
Maybe, just maybe, you'll find the next Norton or Heinlein or Gaiman. Maybe someone better.
Maybe he'll be named Douglas E. Richards.
Maybe I'm overselling this book. But maybe not. My standards have gone up a lot since I was thirteen and reading Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein's YA stories for the first time. When I've tried to reread some of my favorite novels from those days, they've seemed inordinately sloppy. Some of those books wander all over the universe and then avoid solving the problem they posed at the beginning. It's a great ride, but it promised Venus and actually finished at Mars. Not this one.
The Prometheus Project: Trapped is crisp, clean, and delivers what it promises.
Ryan and Regan Resnick are brother and sister, trapped in rural Pennsylvania in the most boring place on Earth. Or so they believe, for the first five hundred words. Then they overhear a conversation between their parents that lets them know they are involved in something mysterious, probably illegal, and definitely not boring. They use their wits to investigate, and end up tricking their way into an alien underground city that their parents, important scientists, have been recruited into studying.
Soon they are on the run, cut off from their family, and trying to solve a problem that represents the survival of not just themselves, but every member of the scientific team, if those scientists are still alive at all.
"[Ryan and Regan] turned back toward the room and were greeted by a sight right out of a horror movie. An infestation of insects was pouring right out of the floor, completely surrounding the group of scientists and [the children's] mom. They were pitch black and were the size of very large ants. They had six perfectly identical body segments, and each segment had a pair of both legs and pincers that seemed to be in constant motion. There must have been millions of them; a living sea of relentless alien insects so dense that they were stacked on top of each other, several inches deep. Large chunks of rock had appeared as well, maybe from under the floor, and as the insects swarmed over them on their way to the group of scientists the rocks completely dissolved, like ice cubes in a pot of boiling water."
It doesn't get any better than that, not for the reader nor for the teens as they attempt to solve the problems of the alien city. Richards puts his scientific background -- he's in biotech -- into the work, and everything that he does has a scientific underpinning. The puzzles and problems he places in front of his teen characters are fair, and the kids solve them by using basic principles of science and logic.
This is not to say that the kids are superbrains -- cough cough Wesley Crusher cough -- they just work their way through situations using the knowledge they have, and make it all come out somehow. What more can you ask of a hero?
Click here to buy The Prometheus Project: Trapped!, by Douglas E. Richards on Amazon
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