Author: Dom Testa
Publication Date: 10/10/04
Blurb (GR): When the tail of the comet Bhaktul flicks through the Earth’s atmosphere, deadly particles are left in its wake. Suddenly, mankind is confronted with a virus that devastates the adult population. Only those under the age of eighteen seem to be immune. Desperate to save humanity, a renowned scientist proposes a bold plan: to create a ship that will carry a crew of 251 teenagers to a home in a distant solar system. Two years later, the Galahad and its crew—none over the age of sixteen—is launched.Two years of training have prepared the crew for the challenges of space travel. But soon after departing Earth, they discover that a saboteur is hiding on the Galahad! Faced with escalating acts of vandalism and terrorized by threatening messages, sixteen-year-old Triana Martell and her council soon realize that the stowaway will do anything to ensure that the Galahad never reaches its destination. The teens must find a way to neutralize their enemy. For if their mission fails, it will mean the end of the human race….
Review: I can pinpoint the start of my obsession with space stories to a date: January 17-24, 1988. I was not even 5 yet but I remember watching Earth Star Voyager, a miniseries presented by The Wonderful World of Disney. We taped it and watched it over and over until the VHS started to get all crappy--well, crappier quality than VHS tapes already were. No worries, though, because mon frère got all of his sisters DVD copies off of ebay a few years back so I can watch it over and over as an adult. Anyway, I love space. And YA. I will watch any show that features teenagers in space and I’ll read any book of the same variety.
Here's a youtube video of the first few minutes of Earth Star Voyager in all its shiny glory:
So, the other day I had a few Goodreaders over to my house. I took them to a local bookstore and went downstairs to peruse a small branch of my library. (Two things: (1) Crazy that the library is downstairs from a bookstore, right?; and (2) Way to go me for trying not to spend money!) I looked at the YA shelves and saw a book that said, “251 TEENS ARE SENT INTO SPACE TO SAVE MANKIND. WILL THEY SUCCEED?” Okay, I’m frakking sold. Then I found out it was number 4 in a series and they didn’t have #1. Screw you, library! But they had it at the bookstore upstairs. (and I put the rest of them on hold and picked them up the next day. I was just kidding about being angry at the library. King County Library System is the shit.)
Fun, fun, fun. This book is set in a future wherein a comet flew extremely close to Earth’s atmosphere and yadda, yadda, yadda, the comet’s particles create a deadly disease that is slowly killing most of the population. (Plausible? I didn’t really care.) A few scientists pitch the idea of building a spaceship and sending 15/16 year olds off to colonize somewhere new in the galaxy. (adults are more susceptible to the disease and no one under 18 has developed it but they make the cutoff lower to be sure) The spaceship design is strikingly similar to that in Across the Universe or really, the opposite is true. The narrative style was interesting, as it shifted from first person (the hilariously snarky ship computer that retains the personality of its creator) to third person, covering several of the primary council members. We learn the backstories of the characters as well as the history of how the project was developed and implemented. Oh, happy day! Nearly every time I had a question, Dom Testa answered it.
The first installment of the series follows the crew as they head out and encounter a saboteur in their midst during the first week. The way each of them dealt with the situation and how they interacted with each other made me really excited to continue with the series. This book was exactly what I wanted to read at that moment and I hope the following installments will entertain me as much. I don’t know if this will be as much of a homerun for regular YA readers, but for those who, like me, enjoy both traditional sci-fi and YA (there is some romance going on), this series is for us. NERDS UNITE!