When extraterrestrials impound a spaceship full of students and teachers 400 light-years from Earth, it’s up to Jack and his buddies to get them all back home.
Life on Public School Ship 118 has been hard for Jack ever since his science-teacher father was fired and kicked off, leaving him alone and outcast. It gets dramatically worse when the ship comes under attack. In the chaos, Jack’s father texts him via communicator ring with directions to save the school—but implementing them strands the entire ship in Elvidian space, where they are swiftly imprisoned. While the Earth kids are forced to attend Elvidian school and wear Elvidian contact lenses, Jack discovers that his father had been fired for tinkering with the P.S.S. 118, illicitly equipping it with the means to get them home—if only they can figure out how to get all of them back on the ship. Fortunately, the Elvidians seem to be a touch hypochondriacal and do not recognize Earth diseases….Levy’s novel, festooned with futuristic tech, is aimed at action-oriented readers, but too much telling rather than showing, especially initially, may turn them off prematurely. Repetitive details such as frequent references to Jack’s dad’s firing further bog the plot down. Jack presents white on the cover; Ari, who is Jewish, is depicted with brown skin; and Becka has light skin and long, dark hair.
Younger, less-sophisticated sci-fi fans who can get past the backstory-filled opening might find this just the ticket. (Science fiction. 9-13)