Book three in National Geographic’s Middle grade fiction series continues the story of twelve year old Cruz Coronado as a student at Explorer Academy. If you missed the first two installments, take a peek at my review of THE NEBULA SECRET (Book 1) and THE FALCON’S FEATHER (Book 2).

Here’s the official background from National Geographic: double helix

The adventure continues for Cruz, Emmett, Sailor, and Bryndis as they continue their studies at sea and travel to exotic locations around the world. A mysterious person alerts Cruz to impending danger while he and a few trusted pals explore ancient ruins in Petra, Jordan, and search for another piece of the puzzle his mother left behind. Worst of all, now his father has gone missing, which prompts Aunt Marisol, his number one protector, to leave the ship in search of him. Who is the new professor who takes her place? How does the new technology he introduces help or hurt Cruz’s quest? Why is Nebula determined to stop Cruz before he turns 13? The clock is ticking as his first teen birthday draws near … a milestone that will change his life forever, one way or another.

MY THOUGHTS: Although this is a separate adventure from the first two, you’ll want to experience the entire series to get the full effect of everything going on. The quest to unravel his mother’s third puzzling clue takes center stage in this one.

Orion, the ship the group travels on, is a scientific wonderland. The classes alone will make any young reader wish they were enrolled. Frequent illustrations and maps accompany the story, fitting in well with the action put forth in the text.

There are some nifty fictional pieces of technology like the PANDA unit used for revealing DNA, but there’s also plenty of real science going on. Space archaeology is an example where satellite imagery is used to find ancient civilizations and ruins.

Cruz and his classmates are more fully realized characters in this adventure. Their personalities come full circle with both their positive and negative traits. And don’t miss the final post story pages detailing real life explorers and their work

Of course no series is complete without a cliffhanger ending. The final full page image of Cruz will have fans anxious to read what happens in book four, THE STAR DUNES, due out next March.


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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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  1. It does sound like a science wonderland where readers would just love! You have me intrigued. I need to look at this series. I love that it is published by National Geographic. Wish my great grandson was old enough to read this series.

  2. I enjoyed the first book in this series. It’s good to hear that the characters are becoming even more developed as the series goes on. I’ll have to make sure to continue the series!

  3. Pingback: The 2019 Golden Cup Awards | Always in the Middle…

  4. Pingback: Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes | Always in the Middle…

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