Young authors Ankita Chatterjee (The Magic Key, 2012) and Riya Chatterjee offer a YA novel about four siblings with the power to save the world.
The Genesis children—Storm, Twister, Gale and Nilla—are living ordinary lives pulling pranks on each other, texting their friends, playing sports and going to school, when a phone call changes everything. Their parents tell them that the whole family needs to pick up and move to Nevada now, and there’s no time for questions. At the airport, however, there’s another twist: Their parents, who work for a secretive organization called the Virtuous Co., have been called in on separate, even more urgent business in California, so the children must go on alone. After a brief, unpleasant stay at the home of a former principal, the children learn that their parents are in trouble, and that they must go to the Virtuous Co. headquarters. There, they discover a training facility for unusual young people: “Specials” with secret superpowers. It turns out that Storm can control the sky and clouds, Twister the wind, Gale the water, and Nilla the ground and what grows in it. Their time at the training center is, however, very brief. Their parents are being held by a shadowy organization called the Thieves, and it’s up to the Genesis children to save them—and the world. It’s a narrative that will be familiar to fans of great children’s literature, but one that’s truly beloved: Ordinary children discover they’re not as ordinary as they’d thought, and are whisked off to a strange land where they face new challenges. As ever, it’s a good framework to hang a story on. But this short, easy chapter book (the second in a series) often feels like it’s all framework and no story: What exactly is the Virtuous Co.? What’s the actual threat to the world, and what does it have to do with the Genesis family? Why do the kids, and no one else, have to save their parents? Young readers may not mind these holes, however, or the plot’s naïveté. Instead, they may be captivated by the details—such as the weapons the children receive before they head off on their quest—and the fantasy of one day discovering that they, too, may be special.
A classic structure and the power of myth carry this novel, despite its thin plot.