I had the opportunity to read a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley. I'm really glad that I did, because I enjoyed it even more than I expected to. This middle grade science fiction adventure novel has compelling action that sweeps you up into the story from the very beginning. It also has true-to-life characters that kids will definitely be able to recognize and identify with.
Bart King's characters come to life right from the opening of the book. Noah Grow, a seventh grader and an avid bird watcher, is dealing with all of the typical problems middle schoolers face: friendship issues, bullies, and school work. The book opens as Noah is riding home from school on the school bus. Noah's seat mate is a shy, awkward boy named Ronnie Ramirez. Noah gets off the school bus before his assigned stop because he hears a bird call that he recognizes as a rare wood duck. The school's bully, Coby Cage, also gets off at this stop to pick on Noah and this starts all of the book's adventure.
Coby causes Noah to take a tumble down a steep hill into the local nature preserve. When he's getting back on his feet, he finds a strange electronic object underneath a bush. When he's visiting with his friends, Jason and Jenny Bright, he discovers that this strange, glittery object gives him extraordinary powers. These powers put him into other dramatic situations, and eventually put him contact with extraterrestrial aliens. The action in this book makes it a real page turner! I had a hard time putting the book down as I really wanted to find out what was going to happen next! I had several sleepy days from staying up way too late with this book.
The author uses the analogy of rows and rows of dominoes tumbling onto each other to describe the cascade of events in this story. At the opening of the book, Noah describes it this way: "Some of the rows are short, while others lead far off into the distance. Step one way, and you'll knock over one domino. Step a different way, and you'll knock over another domino. Then that domino will hit another one, and so on and so on and so on... Life is sort of like this. It's hard to see where we're going when we're always in the dark."
With the domino metaphor, this book would be a great way to discuss cause and effect and causal chains. I also think that this book would be a popular addition to my classroom library.
There is a good interview with Bark King at The Hiding Spot blog:
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
The Drake Equation
1484725522 (ISBN13: 9781484725528)