Saturday, 23 January 2010

Meteorite Strike by A G Taylor

29th January 2010, Usborne
336 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, 11+, thriller

Cushions: 5
Daggers: 1
Smiles: 3
Tears: 2
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥

Summary from Usborne

A meteorite has struck earth without warning, unleashing a deadly alien virus. Thousands fall victim... but not Sarah and Robert. Instead they develop strange side effects – psychic abilities. And that makes them a target for HIDRA, a rogue international agency determined to turn them into lab rats, just like the other kids they’ve already captured – kids who can control fire, create storms and tear steel with their minds. If they can work together, these kids might just stand a chance...

Special powers + government agency wanting Sarah & co + a shifty father back on the scene = great read!

(What makes you think I love this book without having written the rest of the review?)

Any book with psychic abilities and I'm there, reading it. The concept may be widely used, but the magic never dies. Meteorite Strike follows the story of Sarah and her brother Robert. With their mother dead, their father who spent most of their life away from them is taking them half way round the world to live in Australia.

The first part of the story is to do with the flight and the plane crash. Sarah's attitude is strong, with a dislike for her father, and so it seems most other adults. The reason for this is revealed over the course of the story, and it had me near to tears. Sarah doesn't like Daniel, her father, and is naturally suspicious of him. These suspicions are raised when he acts even more strangely. There isn't a lot of time to think about this, for the plane crashes. Now, having experienced bad turbulence, and watched realistic plane crashes, I can say that I was scared as I read the story. For me this shows just how much of a compelling read Meteorite Strikes is.

There was a somber moment when the tragedy strikes: with all that's been going on in the world the last few years, I did find myself stopping and thinking of all those who have died in plane crashes. Perhaps that's why I found the crash more compelling than say an alien invasion (no aliens in this book).

Already emotionally hooked to the characters and the catastrophic disaster, following Sarah as she seeks refuge from the dust storm bringing sickness to all with Robert and Daniel had me eagerly turning over each page. Little by little Daniel performs stranger actions, which accumulate in a showdown between himself and Sarah. The result of the showdown was unexpected, and given all that they had already gone through made sense. Sarah wants to protect her little brother, but he doesn't quite understand that people aren't always who they make out to be.

Perhaps his trusting nature is why he doesn't show initial signs of psychic abilities. Being held captive, away from family is enough to make anyone nervous. That's the whole idea behind the military operation: although the soldiers are initially nice to Sarah (nice being a relative word. There are no fluffy stuffed animals, no bowls of icecream). Sarah has more than one ability up her sleeve. The way the abilities are revealed makes a pleasant read - little by little her powers grow. Robert's power may not be as spectacular as Sarah and the other children she meets, but I think it suits his personality and proves to be very useful. Not all the other children are on Sarah's side - one of them is definitely her enemy, siding up with the leaders of the military group who are in charge of the whole operation HIDRA.

Force and intimidation, as well as deception is used by HIDRA doesn't make Sarah inclined to stick around to be a lab rat. Naturally HIDRA doesn't let her or the others go without a fight. The scientists of the operation seem genuine enough - Sarah can tell if people are lying, but kindness also isn't enough to keep her cooped up. The break for freedom is a gripping read, especially when Sarah learns to care for her father Daniel, just as everything looks gloomy. The children have little time to practice their new (for some) powers, and the plan has the odd glitch. But overall, Sarah and the rest of the ability filled children make a good team and are able to gain a small victory. However, the story is not over. For Sarah makes a decision concerning Daniel's shifty line of work: one which will be examined in the sequel, Alien Storm (out in November 2010!).

Meteorite Strike had it all for me, action, suspense, drama and emotional moments sprinkled in between the terror. The strength of sibling relationships, and how strong bonds can be formed when people share a common ground makes A G Taylor an author to keep an eye on.

Also full of action (but with a lot more terror) is Gone, by Michael Grant.

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