Rating: 4 stars
This “Voyagers” book, the second, is written by Robin Wasserman, who does a masterful job following up on “Project Alpha,” D. J. MacHale’s first book in the series (and he’s a tough act to follow). The series is about four pre-teens who are chosen through a rigorous competition to be the astronauts who head out light years into space to save Earth. In the first book, all eight competitors are introduced. In “Game of Flames,” the crew of the four winning kids heads for the second planet, from which they need to extract something that will eventually lead to a formula to save Earth.
At first, they don’t know that the four kids who were not selected are following them on another spaceship from Earth, but in this story the kids learn many surprising facts — about their mission, their mysterious fellow crew member Chris, and about the four failed contestants. Wasserman continues to build the characters but, Dash remains the protagonist and the person the reader gets to know the best.
Wasserman grabs the chance to do some character development in this book. She does a masterful job of showing that people — even kids — are sometimes much more complex than they might appear to be. Are all “bad guys” really bad? Not necessarily. In this second book in the series, all the characters gain depth and strengths and vulnerabilities that they didn’t show in the first book.
Like the first book, there is plenty of danger, plenty of need for the kids to problem solve, and some humor. This is a great suggestion for reluctant readers, and because the vocabulary isn’t complex, a wide range of readers would find this enjoyable — from fourth grade through seventh or even eighth grade. The next book in the series is “Omega Rising” by Patrick Carman, and it will be available in January, 2016.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Random House Books for Young Readers for review purposes.