Gillian’s dad’s conspiracy theories ruined the family…but what if he’s right?
With their parents divorced, 12-year-old Gillian and her brother, Eric, live with their disgraced scientist father in their former summer home. Mom is abroad researching a book and not likely to come back to the States soon. Dad’s biography of the controversial (and missing) engineer Aloysius Underberg ended his career. Now, all the unemployed history professor does is speak at conspiracy conventions and read seminars on the like. That’s where he met his new more-than-friend Fiona. Gillian’s distrust of Fiona leads her and her friends to discover missing pages of Dr. Underberg’s journal…which leads them to discover a secret underground bunker-city that is twice as hard to escape as it was to find, especially with gun-toting secret agents on their heels. Gillian wants to find Dr. Underberg’s 100-year battery or at least proof that her father is not crazy, but what she and her friends find is much more amazing…and dangerous. Teen author Peterfreund tries her hand at a sci-fantasy thriller for a younger audience and misses the mark. Though her conversational first-person narrator is personable enough, the coincidence-dependent plot has significant holes, and the thrills are sadly uneven.
A secondary-at-best middle-grade thriller—here’s hoping the sequels improve. (Adventure. 9-12)