Nielsen takes the baton from Scott Westerfeld in the newest installment of the Horizon series, raising the stakes for the seven young plane crash survivors, now all honorary Team Killbot members.
Though suffering from an unusual injury inflicted by the “dreadful duck of doom,” Molly, an African-American girl from New York City, has stepped up to lead the group across the dangerous and impossible arctic rift they’ve found themselves in. Hopefully, on the other side of the desert they’ve named the Blood Sand they’ll find both answers and help. But the Blood Sand holds dangers, both natural (or unnatural, as the case may be) and mechanical, that will test them in both body and spirit. With every threat and loss, they come closer to learning why they were saved and by whom. In third-person–limited chapters that offer the barest glimpses into the histories of Molly and three other members of Team Killbot (Yoshi, who’s biracial, Japanese and white; Anna, who’s white, and Javi, who’s black Latino), Nielsen moves the story arc forward, setting up the next episode. While the book doesn’t stand alone (and isn’t meant to), the action is smooth, and the diversity of the cast (accurately represented on the book cover) refreshing, making for an engaging read.
Part survival story, part video game mystery, all solid fun that readers will easily get caught up in. (Science fiction. 9-12)