Adventure and sports abound in this post-apocalyptic sci-fi debut.
It has been 10 years since Earthfall, and the human race, now all dark skinned with black hair, lives in moon colonies, some named from an assortment of East Asian or Middle Eastern derivations. Shinzo “Strike” Sazaki is captain of Taiko Colony’s Ultraball team. It’s a sport similar to football but played in mechanical Ultrabot suits that enhance players’ physical capabilities. Teams compete for colony pride, and the champions are set for life with fame and fortune. Strike is obsessed with winning this year, his past seasons having been marred by traitors paid off by Zuna, the corrupt governor of North Pole Colony, the richest one on the moon. When a talented player named Boom shows up from the mysterious Dark Side of the moon, Strike reluctantly recruits her despite doubts of her loyalty. Soon secrets begin to unravel, and the team finds itself playing for the survival of their entire colony. While there are plenty of twists to keep readers guessing, inconsistencies in the worldbuilding may have readers puzzling over the lunar political landscape, and occasional odd word choices jar the flow of text. Despite this, every Ultraball game is tightly written with great clarity.
Though a bit loosey-goosey off the field, this series opener is still an intriguing hybrid of football and sci-fi with plenty of butt jokes. (Science fiction. 10-14)