By the early 22nd century, postal robots deliver packages via 3-D printers and scientists shrink themselves to study microbiology, but no one’s solved colony collapse disorder.
Sidney Jamison’s crushingly bored by the curriculum at Bleaker High School, where they’re still studying butterfly metamorphosis. When he’s tapped to attend the legendary Sci Hi, a sort of Hogwarts for science geeks, he leaps at the opportunity. Once there, he joins forces with newfound buddies Ron and Hermione—er, Hari and Penny. The students are shrunk so they can enter a beehive in Japan to study bees there (a different species from the one suffering from colony collapse disorder, which is never indicated in the book). They seem to be resistant to varroa mites, a suspect in CCD now and evidently in the future. Mild adventures ensue. The veneer of futuristic details (“voxpods” are thinly disguised smartphones; “lethal” has taken the place of “awesome”) do little to disguise this series opener’s formulaic nature. Still, formula or no, the characters are agreeable enough, if extremely young for their ages, and the focus on science is nice to see. But it is too bad that key technological advances, most notably the shrinking device, are given only hand-waving explanations rather than real scientific grounding. Perhaps most readers won’t notice this, but in a book that seeks to celebrate science, it’s a shame to see it treated casually.
Apt for scientifically minded Magic Treehouse graduates. (Science fantasy. 8-12)