STOWAWAY, by John David Anderson, Walden Pond Press, Aug. 3, 2021, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 8-12)
A simple kid holds the fate of his family and, perhaps Earth, in his hands in John David Anderson’s sci-fi novel Stowaway.
When scientists discover a rare and mysterious mineral buried in the Earth’s crust, they have no idea that it just happens to be the most valuable substance in the entire universe. It’s not long before aliens show up to our little corner of the galaxy offering a promise of protection, some fabulous new technology, and entry into their intergalactic coalition — all in exchange for this precious resource. A material so precious that other alien forces are willing to start a war over it. A war that soon makes its way to Earth.
Leo knows this all too well. His mother was killed in one such attack, and soon after, his father, a Coalition scientist, decides it would be best for them to leave Earth behind. It’s on this expedition that their ship is attacked, Leo’s father is kidnapped, and Leo and his brother are stranded in the middle of space. The only chance they have is for Leo to stow away on a strange ship of mercenary space pirates bound for who knows where and beg the captain to help him find his father.
But the road is dangerous, and pirates, of course, only look out for themselves. Leo must decide who to trust as he tries to stay alive and save his family, even as he comes to understand that there aren’t many people — human or alien — that he can count on in this brave new universe. —Synopsis provided by Walden Pond Press
Stowaway is one of those novels that swiftly sweeps you away. Author John David Anderson’s prose is nimble and engaging, drawing readers in from the first page.
There’s also a familiarity to Stowaway. Some of the settings are decidedly alien. But the book unfolds in such a way that it doesn’t feel that way.
And then there’s sort of a sci-fi familiarity. Stowaway feels like a mashup of the television shows Firefly and Farscape. It’s not an exact mirror of them, but they both came to mind when considering different elements. The pirates have the same banter and character development fans of Firefly will appreciate and the wild and weird aliens definitely have a Farscape vibe.
At the center of it all is Leo. His naivety, his grit, his entire being is one that readers will both relate to and respect. His story is the perfect one to unfold against this backdrop.
Stowaway is the first book in a planned duology, and I can’t wait to read the next installment. In fact, my biggest problem with Stowaway is that it ended too soon. I want answers, and I hate that I have to wait for them.
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