In this sci-fi debut, a teen in the year 3526 races to retrieve an artifact that’s taken his little brother and has the capacity to destroy Earth.
Naturally curious brothers Chase and Jax Dekker tend to peruse antiques in the storage area behind dad Leo’s shop. Chase, fascinated by a puzzle box stashed among old books, is shocked when the box opens and a hovering disk and accompanying spheres come out. The disk sears a marking onto Chase’s chest but hits Jax with a beam that appears to encase the boy in the object’s emerald center before flying away. When Leo hears what’s happened, he admits to Chase that he’s a former Interplanetary Alliance Command agent and was hiding the dangerous artifact, which years ago annihilated an entire planet. The box also includes a map, showing the general direction of the disk and sporting an ongoing countdown. If Chase doesn’t catch up to the disk within an estimated two-and-a-half months, he’ll likely lose both his brother and his home planet. Leo and his wife, Cloe, are later detained by rogue Interplanetary agents, leaving Chase to hitch a ride on his own. Lendar Hawking, meanwhile, escapes from prison and searches for the disk, oddly familiar with the planet-obliterating relic and inexplicably linked to Chase. Wandschneider tightly packs his hefty plot into a relatively short novel. Chase traverses the universe to multiple worlds and encounters copious characters, most of whom try to rip him off or double-cross him. Paira Sange is the best and seemingly the most trustworthy; in her delightful introduction, she immediately pegs Chase as someone who’s on the moon illegally. In like manner, Lendar is gleefully ambiguous, a villain who can’t be all that bad. He intentionally gets arrested, resulting in the Interplanetary Alliance confiscating his ship—and repairing it for free. Wandschneider occasionally skims finer details: a curious moon-walking Chase sees “totally new,” Earth-restricted domesticated animals, with no further elaboration. Nevertheless, the author delivers a narrative with an impressive pace, a protagonist whose single-minded mission retains focus, and a few surprises along the way—like how Lendar knows when to initiate a breakout.
An entertaining, epic sci-fi outing in compact form.