As the plane takes off, the four members of Team Killbot and their science advisor, Mr. Keating are sitting in what he calls fancy economy class. The Killbots are the reigning U.S. champions of robot soccer, junior division having just won the competition. They are on their way to compete as a team in Japan. Javi, one of the team members, is terrified of going down in a plane crash. Having built the robot, he is well aware of all the parts of a plane that can fail. Molly, the team leader, assures him this airline has a record of zero crashes in the forty years they've been in business. A few rows in front of them, Yoshi sits dreading the moment when he sees his father again in Japan. Yoshi stole the family sword and took it to the United States. He had no idea it was illegal to remove the katana from Japan. The katana is safely stored and insured in the cargo hold below him. What he will say to his father he cannot imagine. As the plane cruises over the Arctic Circle with miles and miles of ice and snow below, Molly watches out the window thinking about the thin summer sweaters the passengers in the plane are wearing. Then, all hell breaks loose. The top of the plane rips off and one by one adults are torn from the fuselage and tossed into nothingness. Oxygen masks drop, chaos takes charge and the plane makes a violent descent ending in a crash skidding through forest and coming to rest in a rain forest jungle. A rain forest jungle? In the Arctic? Eight survivors walk away from the plane. All of them are children. Half of them are Team Killbot and these kids know their physics and engineering. As problems arise, they use their scientific knowledge to come up with solutions. That helps but it doesn't explain the anti-gravity device that looks like a television remote, the flocks of shredder birds that stage attacks of violent pecking, or the strange objects in the sky overhead. Where are they? Why are they there? Will they ever escape? Can everyone left behind be trusted?
Fantastic scientific challenges come in waves to these kids and you get the feeling you are dealing with a team of superheroes..and their superpower is scientific knowledge.
This is the first in the series of seven books. Action-packed. Likable characters. Brilliant solutions. Will they ever see home again?
241 pages 978-0545916776 Ages 9-13
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
******** When the plane in which they are traveling is in a freak accident, a group of children are stranded in a rain forest. They are confused, though, because their plane was not traveling anywhere near a tropical climate. Even weirder is the fact that eight of them, as well as the plane, land in the forest, but the rest of the people (including the teacher of a group of them who are on their way to a robotics competition) are missing. Still, there is little time to think about this as they attempt to survive in the wilderness. They find an antigravity machine that draws attack birds to their vicity, find food that isn't poisonous (after finding some things that are), and learn to get along with two girls who speak only Japanese. How will they figure out what has happened, and will they survive?
Strengths: Great cover, decent adventure, and multicultural and effective ensemble cast. There is also an online game that goes along with this, which might attract some students. Seems to be available in jacketed hard cover, and part of a seven book series. Weaknesses: While the mystery and science portions of this were okay, the survival aspect wasn't terribly new. I would definitely buy this if it were a 3-5 book series, but seven? That's a big investment, and I'm just not sure about the appeal of this one. The gaming aspect has little impact on my students-- they've never gotten into the 39 Clues or the Trackers online platform.
What I really think: Seven books. I am so entirely weary of series, I can't even begin to explain. At least this one is probably coming out in a short span of time, unlike books like Diane Duane's Young Wizards series which has been published from 1983-2016.
241 pages 978-0545916776 Ages 9-13
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Media Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com