"This is an enjoyable read for all ages that goes by as fast as the authors can unspool it, without needless subplot detours."– Kirkus Reviews
A young Native American girl and her friends, all of whom possess superhuman abilities, must stop an alien plot to take over Earth in the second book by the father-daughter team of Jeff and Erynn Altabef (Wind Catcher, 2015).
Native American teenager Juliet Wildfire Stone was injected as a child with alien DNA, which gave her superhuman abilities, including the power to read minds. With her friend Troy, she travels to New York City to find others like her, known as Chosen. She knows they’re facing a threat from an alien civilization that could destroy the human race. The more Juliet learns how to use her new powers under the tutelage of their teacher, the Host, the more she’s scared that she’ll become completely alien. However, she has little choice, because only by working together to harness the power of all the Chosen can they all defeat this dire threat to humanity. The plot of this second book in the series unspools as swiftly and smoothly as the first. The authors write descriptively: “We unfold ourselves from the small car and follow her as she bounces toward the park entrance, her curly ringlet-infused hair flowing behind her like a cloud.” The book is also full of sly humor, as when one character “waves his smartphone as proof of his awesomeness.” All the characters are distinct and memorable, such as Connor, who uses alcohol as a crutch, and Akari, a quiet but lethal Japanese girl. The book also contains references to Native American beliefs such as the Coyote and Wind Spirits, which were central to the first book’s success. There are numerous similarities to Star Wars here, starting with the hoary “Chosen” theme; the wise teacher, the Host, is reminiscent of Yoda and occasionally even talks like him (“Move you must”). However, the fast-paced story, quirky dialogue, and engaging characters help the book escape the static holding pattern common to many other second installments.
This second book will inspire those unfamiliar with the first to seek it out.
In this first novel by a father-and-daughter team, a Native American girl must accept her special gifts in order to fight an evil that threatens the human race.
One of the paradoxes of the teenage years is that just when kids are encouraged to be individuals, all they really want to do is fit in with the rest of the crowd. That’s the problem faced by Native American teenager Juliet Wildfire Stone. She gets little help from her largely absent, workaholic single mother, or her mystical grandfather, Sicheii, who communicates better with the wind than with his granddaughter. Things become infinitely more complicated when a series of murders appear to lead back to Sicheii. He soon tells her that she’s a being called the Chosen, who must save the human race from a terrible fate. As a result, a reluctant Juliet must jettison the idea of normalcy and accept her destiny before dark forces can triumph. This is an enjoyable read for all ages that goes by as fast as the authors can unspool it, without needless subplot detours. The teenage characters’ realism stands out, quite possibly because of the younger Altabef’s input. Juliet and her friends talk as real-life teens would (“Want to cut today? It’s too sunny to go to school”), and readers never get the sense that an author is forcing the teens’ words and actions. The character of Sicheii, meanwhile, often references wind and sky spirits and talks in riddles, but his mysticism is critical to the story, so readers will forgive his oddities. The story is also shot through with wry humor; for example, Juliet got her middle name because a wildfire was in the news when she was born, and she’s grateful that it wasn’t a garbage strike, instead. Although the book does rely upon the hoary plot device of a “chosen one,” the writing’s freshness overcomes the clichéd plot. It shouldn’t stop readers from trimming their sails and letting the story blow them away.
Sharp writing and realistic characters triumph over a timeworn theme.