Carefully groomed teens practice protecting Earth from a wide variety of potential catastrophes.
Detroit and the four teammates she leads grew up on a starship. They’ve never felt fresh air or sunlight, but they’ve achieved what all cadets are forced to train for: They’re the Apocalypse Five, an elite special-ops team molded to protect Earth from all possible doomsdays—contamination, tsunami, chemical fire, or alien invasion. With each simulated scenario, they learn more, but all scenarios feature danger, and dying in a simulation means dying for real. Then the simulation technology glitches, and the A-5’s world crumbles. What’s a façade, and what is real? Who are the mercilessly violent humanoids—lazily and inexcusably coded by the text as disabled and disfigured—in so many simulations? A ripping plot unfolds; action and gore abound. Unfortunately, the narration’s whopping awkwardness ranges from purple prose to word misuse to startlingly out-of-context vernacular slang to a spectacular quantity of misplaced modifiers. When the narrative finally explains a key technological mystery, the hand-waving answer is a letdown. A sequel beckons, but not even the great plot structure and the rare, welcome fact of a brown-skinned team leader in dystopic science fiction can conquer this unwieldy prose.
Pass, or give to readers who can overlook prose for plot. (Science fiction. 14-18)