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by Garth Nix

Age Range: 12 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-027324-0
Publisher: HarperCollins

 This novel from Nix (Sabriel, 1995, not reviewed) combines plenty of comic-book action in a sci-fi setting to produce an exciting read. Through a projector that can bend dimensions, the alien Overlords freeze time and make anyone over 14 vanish off the face of the Earth. What is left is a world of terrified children who are herded into dormitories, where their brains are eventually harvested and wired into the circuitry of the Overlord's willing beasts. Over the years, a handful of teens have found a home in the secret submarine base of Shade, a computer-generated holographic program and the only nurturing adult sensibility on the planet. The narrative follows the escape of Gold-Eye, a boy with precognizance, and his subsequent recruitment and training with Ella, Drum, and Ninde, who comprise one of Shade's crackerjack squads. Predictably, the group is involved in a mission to take out the Overlord's projector; Nix deftly weaves in a few surprising plot twists, and the teens must grapple not only with betrayal, but the loss of half their team in battle. The author pulls off a happy ending without straining credibility largely through the characters' sacrifice--a satisfying end to an action-adventure with uncommon appeal outside the genre. (Fiction. 12-14)