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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Planet Thieves

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review: The Planet Thieves

The Planet Thieves

Author: Dan Krokos
Pages: 256
Publisher: Starscape
Read: May 19-24, 2013
Source: Publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
The Planet Thieves is the first thrilling installment of a new middle-grade series by Dan Krokos.

Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter.

But routine goes out the airlock when they’re attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years.

With the captain and crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that’s left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever.

Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn’t a war left to fight.

First Sentence: "The prank Mason Stark pulled on his sister was doomed from the beginning."

Though marketed as a middle grade novel, do not let the age of the protagonists scare you away if you're an older reader. Krokos' sophomore novel is well-written and does not speak down to the audience. I loved Krokos' debut, False Memory, and he's hit it out of the park once again. The Planet Thieves is funny, full of adventure, and packed with delightful characters.

Novels for children and teens are full of absent parents and authority figures. This construct allows for young people to feel empowered, the weight of the world on their shoulders. Only these kids can save the day and all that. Well, Krokos does use this basic plot structure. At the beginning of The Planet Thieves, the SS Egypt is attacked by humanity's enemy, the Tremist. All of the adults on the ship but one are captured or killed, leaving the cadets, thirteen and under to save the day.

Krokos does a great job making this believable. Though the cadets are young, they are by no means out of their element entirely. They've already been in training for years, and have the skill sets they need to perform the tasks they need to, though they may not be as good as the adults yet. Also, they don't come by anything too easily. They suffer injuries, frequently consider giving up and waiting for adults to handle everything, and are stressed rather than excited by the roles they find themselves in.

That said, the cadets really rise to the occasion. The one remaining adult on the Egypt is injured, so he names Mason captain, which ends up being a great choice. Mason isn't the most talented or brilliant of the trainees, but he's creative, something he'd ill-advisedly shown in his pranks. Rather than ever giving up, his mind is always churning for solutions, and most of his ideas turn out to be good ones, though some do go awry.

The characters are likable and exhibit complexities. For example, the friendships between these cadets are tentative, so they also have to work to trust one another implicitly while facing odds they never should have been left alone to face. The villains too are much more complex than in most books for younger readers. They're not left as monsters out to destroy for the fun of it, and I love when authors take the time to establish motivations and shades of grey in the actions of the antagonists.

Another aspect that makes this book a delight are all of the references. Science fiction nerds will likely pick out even more than I did, as I'm not nearly as well read as I would like to be. Most overt perhaps are references to Star Wars and Star Trek. However, though there are cute allusions, the overall story was fresh and original.

The ending leaves space open for more books in this world, and I, for one, would be excited to read more. I'd love to find out more about Mason and Merrin, especially. Dan Krokos' The Planet Thieves is a novel that lovers of science fiction will not want to miss, whatever their age!

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "'For the love of cake . . .'"

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard nothing but great things for Dan Krokos' books, so there's a good chance I might give this one a try, even though it's middle-grade. Glad you liked it! A couple of MG books I've read tend to be so unbelievable that it's really immature, but I'm happy this wasn't the case here. And I'm a sci-fi nerd. So that should help too, right? :P Thanks for putting this one on my radar, Christina!

May 25, 2013 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

They're fantastic! It doesn't really read like a middle grade. It's definitely for the older end of the MG spectrum, and the writing is very mature. :)

May 25, 2013 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

How did I miss this review yesterday?! This book sounds so fun! I got it last week and can't wait to read it. I will be fitting it in soon. It's nice and short!! I'm even more excited to read it after your review.

May 25, 2013 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Princess Ash said...

Gosh, I do love when tentative friendships go so right. There's nothing better than that kind of friendship. It's the reason I love bromances or any kind of remarkable friendship. I've really started to figure it out in the last several months how completely awesome MG is, so I'm putting this on my TBR and hope to make time for it soon!

May 27, 2013 at 8:07 AM  

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