A totally awesome story. Great setup and first contact, fun characters and a fast-paced, gripping plot. What’s not to like?
A lot, actually. (Many spoilers follow.)
Even assuming this is written for juvenile readers, the story telling and mechanics need a lot of work. It needs serious editing, even though two editors are credited. Both the narrative and the dialogue is sophomoric at best.
Factual errors nearly overwhelm the story. It’s as if the story was “researched” on line or from old science fiction movies. Clichés are layered on clichés. Almost every reference to the military is wrong: starting with basics like the difference between standing at attention and at parade rest, to there being no five-star generals this century, to being undecided whether the fictional facility at Hutchinson is a Naval Air Station, an Air Force Base or an Army post, to the AB of MOAB denoting “air burst.” Detonated several hundred feet underground in a salt mine, the result might be a small explosion and a big fire, or no explosion and a big fire, but no earth-shattering explosion. “Herbert Wells”? You mean, H. G. Wells? The kids go on the 4:20 PM tour of the salt mines and set off their first bomb at 4 PM. iPads do not have removable batteries. Southeastern Kansas does not have the rail nor bus service reported. Vole is like a deus ex machina; too easy a solution. Literary license is one thing, counter-intuitive errors something else.
Instant translation devices—especially those from other galaxies—could not translate instantly.
The space ship “heals” itself from helium found in interstellar space. Granted helium is only available at a partial pressure of 5 parts per million in Earth’s atmosphere, but that’s whole lot more helium than encountered in interstellar space. Therefore, the space ship would heal, not deteriorate, in the salt mine. In fact, since Hutchinson is about 100 straight line miles from Dexter, Kansas (look up the significance), it’s possible that the atmosphere in the salt mines might have higher helium concentrations.
Even admitting these are mostly quibbles that juvenile readers may not catch or care about, they repeatedly knock the reader out of the story.
Really nice cover.
Three starts is a gift, but as I said it’s a great concept.