A boy, his sister and their three friends discover that their parents—and they themselves—are not what they seem.
When their uncle challenges seventh-grader Ben and his little sister, April, to beat a special computer game in a week, they employ the help of their neighborhood friends: Grace, Carlos and Serise. Together, the kids race against time to decode hieroglyphics, avoid booby traps and collect ancient artifacts. But as the game continues, it becomes strange, as does their parents’ behavior. They begin to feel they’re actually in the projected images of far-off locations—and sometimes they see their parents while there. But that doesn’t make sense....Though the mystery is spoilered by the flap copy, the fact that the characters don’t figure things out immediately makes sense within the context of the story. While the real action comes toward the last half of the book, the first half should keep readers (at least those who avoid the spoiler) engaged as the game is so interesting. And while Ben is likable, he’s no fearless leader but a fallible boy who does his best to be courageous in frightening situations. That the main characters are of diverse ethnic origins is laudable and a breath of fresh air, as is the lack of stereotypes and clichés.
Well-written and well-paced: a promising start to what should be an exciting and unusual sci-fi series. (Science fiction. 10-14)