Molinar’s debut sci-fi adventure offers the tale of two brothers who travel to another world, where survivors of ruined cities battle ferocious beings and sinister forces.
Illinois teenagers Marcus and Ty Mitchell stumble upon a strange, orblike artifact in the middle of the night and suddenly find that they’re not on Earth anymore. Instead, they’re in a barren land, the remnants of the ravaged city Spartanica. They befriend Bellana, Spartanica’s last remaining resident, and a group of children who’ve fled the “detention fields.” The brothers look for a way home, and soon arm themselves for a rescue party when Bellana is taken captive. This YA novel sets a steady pace, with each chapter consisting of Ty’s, Marcus’ and, eventually, Bellana’s alternating perspectives. Its highlights include merciless villains such as the Desrata, whose beastly appearance fits their abbreviated moniker (“ ’rats”); impressive weapons called draiders and lofters that make very loud noises; and a gradually deepening plot, as the brothers receive hints that their arrival in Spartanica wasn’t mere happenstance. Molinar adds his own invented language, particularly with measurements of time such as “jorno” (day), but he also provides plenty of context and explanation to avoid confusion; the exclamations “fazah” and “gehanna,” the latter of which is clearly an expletive, are the most fun. The brothers are dependable leads, particularly Marcus, who develops from a snarky sibling to a gallant hero thanks to his newfound “hyper-strength” and his coziness with one of the escapees. Ty, reputedly a genius, is also the younger of the two, and his frequent whining—such as his insistence that the detention-field fugitives are actually serial killers—is often comical but sometimes exasperating. The story leaves a few issues unresolved, such as how Ty and Marcus got to Spartanica in the first place, and tosses in a cliffhanger, so another book is sure to follow.
A sci-fi adventure with action, fantastical creatures and worthy protagonists that will likely make readers want to know what happens next.