This debut middle-grade adventure sees a group of kids train to prevent an alien invasion of Earth.
One night, the diminutive, pointy-eared Carl Bellon pops up from a seemingly unspectacular hole in an empty lot. He teams up with a German shepherd named Mercure to visit the home of 13-year-old Alex Vega. The dog telepathically alerts the teen’s family members, including Alex’s parents, Miguel and Janet, and sister, Aura, to imminent danger. They escape as four green spheres float toward the house and set it ablaze. While running to the hole in the lot, Miguel and Janet use a polished black tablet called a Z-Con (or Zero Point Field Condenser) to defend against the spheres. The hole, it turns out, is a portal that leads to a carved-out facility inside the Himalayan Mountains. There, Alex learns of the Praefectus, who possess advanced alien technology and have been training for generations to defend Earth against intergalactic invaders. He also meets more children—Maia, Elka, and Dion—with whom he’ll train, and the Masters Kattan and Ebo. The Masters guide the young apprentices through various portals to their new home at the Jade pyramid, a section of the Earth Defense Operations School. In this novel, D.J. Burchell and M.A. Burchell combine touches of the Harry Potter and Indiana Jones series to introduce an epic saga that includes the origins of gods like Zeus and Ra. The brother-and-sister team maintains a tight narrative flow, unveiling the wonders of the Z-Con technology through the kids’ eyes. Less savvy authors might infodump story elements, but the Burchells refuse. Mercure says to Alex, “Some things you should discover for yourself. More exciting that way, isn’t it?” Indeed, ice cream that tastes like a high dive into the ocean and Gravity-Energy Manipulator suits that confer near invincibility are wondrously detailed. With Z-Cons standing in for wands, the children solve a minimystery while learning to fly planes and sail, skills potentially needed for later missions. The authors lay down an exceptional foundation of characters and worldbuilding for more dangerous escapades to come.
A clever series opener that draws from the myths and pantheons of numerous ancient cultures.