In this debut sci-fi novel, a young Australian boy and his family become embroiled in a galactic war when he and his siblings discover mystical stones.
While on vacation in Byron Bay, Australia, 12-year-old Zeke Waters finds an innocuous-looking pod that contains three small, powerful rocks. After he and his younger siblings “bond” with the stones, they set off a series of interstellar events—effectively revealing the location of alien refugees, the Argos, who came to Earth to escape the evil Pravus and their merciless soldiers, the Ciphers. Zeke eventually makes a shocking discovery, and he and his family flee to New Vanaheim, a secret city where the alien refugee cultures continue to survive. The novel slowly introduces its complicated world; Zeke’s family members aren’t even named until pages after their introduction, so it’s initially unclear what their relationship is to one another. The story takes off, however, with an early chase sequence: Ciphers pursue the divided family, who are in turn protected by alien warriors. When Zeke reaches New Vanaheim, he meets some other preteens; the author spends a relatively short time on their relationships but generates an instant sense of friendship and community. At times, the prose can be awkward (“It’s a pretty select group for this feast, Zeke. Usually, everyone’s invited, but because of the importance of this one, there’s only a select group invited.”), and there are a few bait-and-switch moments. Overall, however, the story is a consistently engaging one, full of action and aliens, and many readers will likely hope for a sequel.
An exciting, if uneven, sci-fi adventure.