My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Point of View: 3rd Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 10+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Action
A boy with unprecedented power must turn to the terrifying Alien enemies of humanity to discover his true nature and bring peace to a galaxy at war.
Lucky lives a relatively normal life on a remote moon of the planet Aries One, safe from the turmoil and devastation of the interstellar war between Humans and Aliens. Lucky has seen images of the horned, cloven-hooved Aliens before, but he’s never seen one up close. Then one night, he dreams that the stars are singing to him—and wakes to evidence suggesting that he is not so normal after all. When Lucky’s mother sacrifices herself to help him escape an elite Human military force called the Shadow Guards, he must rely on the Alien crew of a ramshackle starship, where he finds that humanity’s deadly enemies seem surprisingly Human up close. In fact, they may be more Human than Lucky himself, who has a dangerous power that could change the course of the war and the fate of the galaxy—if he can learn how to use it. Star Wars fans seeking another saga to love need look no further than this epic middle-grade adventure from SF Said, illustrated by Dave McKean with remarkable white-on-black spacescapes.
What a gem of a book!
I’m actually surprised this sci-fi middle grade novel is so under the radar, because 1) the story is really well written and 2) the hardcover is kick-ass gorgeous. Plus it has tons of cool illustrations inside!
Granted, I sure would have liked it if those illustrations actually illustrated the world Lucky lives in, more than the kind of abstract part with the stars. But they do add to the lyrical atmosphere, making this a more than poetic work.
It took me so long to feel interest in reading this book. It didn’t look bad, but the number of pages intimidated me a little. Alright, so it’s not like this is my first time reading a novel of around five hundred pages, but I’m not a huge fan of science fiction, so yes, I was a little scared of ‘‘Phoenix.’’
The moment I started it though, I literally couldn’t put it down. It was part I-want-to-know-what-the-hell-is-going-on and part oh-my-god-these-illustrations-are-so-cool-oh-the-next-ones-are-in-twenty-pages-?-no-worries-I’ll-just-keep-on-reading.
S.F. Said has talent in writing action scenes—or more precisely, intense scenes. I felt the rush, I felt the danger, I felt the beauty of the world. I felt the sadness and hurt, and happiness and wonder. Which really is the main reason why I’m mind-blowned right now: how does this not have thousands of readers yet?
The author did an okay job with the world-building. I understood the matter at hand (war between humans and aliens) but we do not have much background on how the world came to be like it is and why and when—the basic questions were not concretely answered. But the author does show creativity in this, that’s for sure. I especially liked the idea of the astrolabe and the Shadow Guards. The storyline is also easy to follow, despite some lack of understanding of the world.
Highly, highly recommended.
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