In this middle-grade sci-fi tale, an Earth girl encounters a new universe of heroism and peril when she finds that she’s secretly alien royalty—and that she must enroll in a special academy that trains students for galactic missions.
Mary Jane, a 12-year-old girl living outside Seattle, is stunned to hear from authorities that her mother apparently died in a car crash—and then amazed when she finds out that her life has been a fabrication all along; she’s really a young extraterrestrial of royal blood named Arris, who was sent into protective exile with another family as an infant. Now that mysterious drones have located her hiding place, Arris must teleport to her true destiny in outer space—attending Nebula Academy, where she meets galactic heroes Spider and Catella (the latter of whom sometimes turns into an Earth cat). The institution trains youth from various planets to be teams of “Protectors”: cosmic troubleshooters answering calls for help from all over the galaxy. Arris and her squad go through assorted simulated exercises to learn how to apply justice and rule of law—preferably without resorting to undue violence or mayhem. When a nest of spies surfaces in Nebula Academy, seemingly hunting for intelligence on Arris herself, the student heroes jump into real-life action and intrigue. White (The Twins of Fairland, 2014) takes this wish-fulfillment fantasy through some energetic, if not exactly groundbreaking, antics. A strong Lucasfilm influence can be sensed in the snappy pacing, not to mention the inevitable black-cloaked arch-villain. When serious ray-gun blasting starts, most of the casualties are humanoid robot/clones called “n-reals,” as anonymous and interchangeable as Imperial stormtroopers. Young readers who haven’t graduated to more intricate material, such as Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers or Orson Scott Card’s Ender universe, should find it an agreeable thrill ride, although way-out creatures, robots, and exotic cultures don’t loom particularly large in the mythology.
A lightweight sci-fi adventure for tweens.