Following his deceased scientist mother’s legacy, Cruz Coronado has been selected to attend the Explorer Academy, a school that prepares a diverse group of the brightest young budding scientists “To discover. To innovate. To protect.”
Prior to his departure for the academy, while taking one last surf at his favorite Kauai beach, someone tries to pull him under and then mysteriously disappears. His new roommate also notices that a strange man is following Cruz. Strange occurrences arise, the most dangerous when the students are almost killed during a training simulation. Cruz’s pursuer eventually reveals himself, warning him that members of the nefarious Nebula are out to get him due to a secret project his mother had been working on. A cryptic message she left behind may provide a clue to her death—and may save his life. In the meantime, Cruz and his fellow academy recruits learn to navigate secret holographic technology called the CAVE, which prepares them for the terrain they will explore in the real world. This series opener from a new imprint of National Geographic is a fully packed high-tech adventure that offers both cool, educational facts about the planet and a diverse cast of fun characters (Cruz is Mexican-American). The plot, with preteens in a life-threatening mystery, is not new. The package is glitzy enough, with full-color illustrations throughout, that action-craving readers may not mind. “The Truth Behind the Fiction” concluding backmatter grounds the adventure.
Comfortable formula fiction with a scientific twist. (Science fiction. 8-12)