It is a science fiction story set in a world where Babel Communications secretly launches a space program to explore a new planet. This planet is called Eden, and the company hungers for the precious resource that can be found on it, Nyxia. One pocket of Nyxia amounts to a minimum of some several billion dollars. This substance is coveted for its shapeshifting properties. One blob of Nyxia can be transformed into anything imaginable, using the sheer power of mind—providing that the person conducting the transformation is strong enough, mentally.
This adventure starts when Emmett Atwater, an ordinary boy from Detroit, Michigan, is offered a contract with Babel’s space program.
Babel offers him fifty thousand dollars every month for the rest of his life, along with first-line service in health care. This means that if Emmett accepts, he will be a millionaire.
After accepting, Emmett is sent off to space with a group of other kids. There, the children are trained to mine and manipulate Nyxia and protect themselves against Adamites and the wilds of Eden. The leaders of the space program believe that adding a little competition to the mix will help the children learn faster. The kids are pitted against each other in challenges such as obstacle courses, hand-to-hand combat, and Nyxia manipulation duels. Only the best will be able to set foot on Eden and cash out on Babel’s paycheck.
The story is full of adventure, betrayal, death, friendships and is rather fast paced. The story is full of hidden plot twists, which helps the reader connect with each character at different levels. The story is very exciting and always keeps the reader flipping through the pages, eager to see what happens next to Emmett and the other kids as they prepare for the end of the competition, and inevitably the decision on who will go and who will stay.
Despite the diversity of characters (the main character Emmett being African American, the other kids are from different cultures) the main conflict tackles what all these people have in common. In that respect, the novel shows the diversity of human motivations. The characters are complex and interesting, but the lack of bounding and the lack of emotional involvement prevented me from being completely immersed in this world. Also, the challenges seem repetitive and the novel reads more like a video game with points earned. One could say this novel is another version of Ender’s Game. This novel will therefore appeal to the readers of the best seller.
Finally, the kids never get to Eden. That's a huge let down for me. It also allows a huge cliff hanger. Some readers will not find the ending satisfying and some won’t be able to wait until the sequel. That’s an author’s choice, a gambling that may potentially hook the reader. The success of the second book will prove the author right or wrong. I am curious to see how it fares.
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (September 12, 2017)
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Sold by: Random House LLC