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TRAILBLAZER by Austin Aslan


From the TURBO Racers series, volume 1

by Austin Aslan

Pub Date: Dec. 31st, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-06-274103-5
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

A 12-year-old gets a shot at glory in a high-tech, motorized extreme triathlon—but everything has its price.

When not tinkering with mechanical engineering projects, Mace Blazer lights up the leaderboards in TURBO arcade simulations. In TURBO races, vehicles morph among land, sea, and sky forms for various legs of the complicated, wild races. After finding out about a traveling exhibit with a restored, legendary, crashed-too-soon first-generation trimorpher called Event Horizon—just in time to miss it—Mace takes a risk to see the craft in person. The unintended consequences (which include a police chase) lead Mace to Event Horizon’s legendary, mysterious pilot, Quasar, who invites him and three other top simulation performers for a summer of training. Quasar promises entrance in the Gauntlet Prix to the best of them. Coloradan Mace (default white and fluent in ASL due to growing up with Deaf parents) is joined by Japanese-American Aya, Dex from the Dominican Republic, and white Norwegian Henryk. They must compete against one another in the face of elimination and dismissal as the legendary racer teaches them to do anything to win. Mace must decide if he should do it Quasar’s way or play it honest—either alternative holds heavy consequences—and discovers that TURBO’s future depends on his decisions. Intense, impeccably paced, bonkers-awesome international race sequences provide clarity without sacrificing tension or becoming repetitive—and, more importantly, compensate for the formulaic setup.

With flash, spectacle, and tough character choices, an all-around, full-throttle read.

(Science fiction. 8-14)