Jasper has always known that he was bred to serve in Earth Force. His parents had the genetic characteristics that had been bred out of most humans, so both Jasper and his younger sister are able to "bound" (sort of like tessering-- moving through space and time more quickly), so he is sent off to an academy to study when he is old enough.
There, he makes friends with the very knowledgable Cole and the spunky Lucy, and learns more about what is expected of the group. He is assigned with his friends (along with the obnoxious Marco and the differently-abled Mira) not to the Pod being instructed by celebrity aeronauts, but to the geeky Waters and his assistant Gedny.
As a group, they compete in challenges against other groups, and learn how to use gloves Waters' designed to "bound" without a space ship! There are, of course, aliens, bullies, cool gadgets, and secret government conspiracies concerning wars in which the Bounders will have to fight. After dampening one threat on Paleo Planet, the group is to come back in two more books, and Jasper's sister Addy will probably soon be joining them.
Strengths: Jasper's parents are alive and supportive, even though he doesn't see them! There's a lot of scientific explanation, and people wanting diversity in abilities will find it interesting that the Bounders seem to be either working with ADHD or possibly Autism Spectrum related challenges.
Weaknesses: I'll buy this one, and it was perfectly fine, but it seemed a bit reminiscent of Voyagers, MINRS, and several other newer science fiction titles that I've seen.
What I really think: A large part of my problem was that I was a bit appalled that now the world is not only at the mercy of tweens, it is at the mercy of socially inept tweens! Had trouble buying in to the breeding of Bounders part of the world building.
384 pages 978-1481445931 Ages 10-14
Other titles in the series: The Tundra Trials, Book 2
Recommended by: Karen Yingling, Library Media Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her recommendations: http://msyinglingreads.blogspot.com
In the tradition of Michael Vey and The Unwanteds, twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!
Bounders have always known they were different, but they never suspected they were the key to saving Earth.
Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together a team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as elite astronauts able to pilot ships that can travel across the galaxy in an instant.
Jasper Adams can’t wait to join the first class of Bounders, but when he arrives at the space station, nothing is as it seems. Security is sky-high, and Jasper and his new friends soon realize that Earth Force has been keeping secrets—one of the biggest being a powerful, highly-classified technology that allows the Bounders to teleport through space without a ship. Only Bounders can use this tech, which leads Jasper to a sinister truth—humanity is facing a threat greater than any they’ve ever known, and Bounders are the ones standing between their planet and destruction.
Will Jasper and his friends rebel against Earth Force for hiding the truth, or fulfill their duty and fight for their planet? The fate of Earth may rest on their choice.--from the publisher