Elara Vaughn has wanted to become a terraformer, a bioengineer who creates new life forms, her whole life.
The dark-skinned human girl journeys to the prestigious and wildly diverse Seven Systems School of Terraforming Sciences and Arts from the remote farming planet Vega Antilles V. Elara quickly makes friends: a polite stone giant named Knot and a blue girl named Beezle who’s part of a hive mind. Inadvertently and quite destructively creating a star together unites the three girls and catches the attention of the school’s headmistress. Instead of punishing them, she gives them extracurricular activities in which Elara and her friends succeed in exploding and destroying more school property. When Elara rescues snobby, four-armed Sabik from a spider-kitten, he becomes another friend. Headmistress Nebulina also tasks Elara with solving the Impossible Equation, a mathematical formula that proves that terraforming cannot be done instantaneously. As if this is not enough, someone is trying to kill Elara—it seems her fate is tied to the fate of the galaxy. Some action scenes run the risk of containing too much technical jargon for readers to fully engage, but the escape scenes and explosions help to compensate. Elara’s friendships with the charming Knot and Beezle will give middle-grade readers a positive model to follow, but her relationship with Sabik feels underdeveloped. An epilogue promises more adventures.
A funny, rollicking, action-packed quest through the cosmos. (Science fiction. 8-12)