Young archaeologists Clem and her android brother enter a dangerous race to find priceless artifacts.
Fourteen-year-old Clementine Hetherington wants desperately to break into the archaeology field. Not only because she is struggling to find food for herself and “spark” for her android younger brother, Digory, but also to continue their family’s legacy after the mysterious deaths of both their parents. When the academy proves unwilling to admit Clem and Dig because they are too young, the siblings are left with frighteningly few options until a nefarious ex-friend, Alistair Kilburn, tells them about the Ironwood Race. Combining desert motor racing and archaeological excavation, the Ironwood is a multi-leg race to find four priceless artifacts, which will go to the victorious team, but for Clem and Dig it also means unearthing treachery as well as treasures. Breach and Holgate have delivered an impossibly energetic graphic novel with action that leaves many a panel in a cloud of dust. A tight narrative arc allows the pacing to shift intensity in all the right places, although it also means many things are left unexplored, such as characters’ racial backgrounds (Clem is brown-skinned), Digory’s sentience, or the Earth-like but ET–populated and futuristic setting. Archaeology purists may balk a bit, but fun and peril outshine inaccuracies here. The older protagonist and teen-oriented emotional turmoil are balanced by the delightful, adrenaline-charged incongruity of high-stakes excavation and absolutely-no-rules racing for a fairly broad audience.
Indiana Jones meets Mad Max in a whirlwind as exciting for teens as it is for middle-grade readers. (Graphic science fiction. 10-16)