Troubles plague a program for teenage astronauts.
Out of hundreds of candidates worldwide, Miranda Regent, a 13-year-old white girl, is the only American of six chosen to fill out a multicultural team of cadets who will go to Mars. Shortly after being chosen, she receives a sinister text message warning her that she is now in danger. The suspected origin of this and future messages is believed to be Russia, as Miranda has arguably taken a spot from them. As the cadets are traveling to meet and begin their astronaut training, a drone strikes the ship Miranda is traveling on, and there is an attack on another cadet. Once the entire global team is safely assembled in Antarctica, they begin their training, during which Miranda struggles. Further mysterious attacks seem to target her. Clues surface that lead the kids to secretly band together to uncover who is behind the mysterious attacks, as they suspect that they may be an inside job. Though it is commendable that Slivenksy chooses a diverse crew of teens to lead this story, characterizations can be broad, and narrator Miranda displays little cultural savvy. Unfortunately, the author falls back on clichéd plot devices to carry the story (is it the Russians?!). Early on, obvious foreshadowing leads readers to a predictable whodunit with little room for speculation or mystery.
A straightforward read for kids not already well-versed in mystery conventions. (Mystery. 8-12)