I’ve enjoyed John David Anderson’s books since 2016 when I was first introduced to his story telling with Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. In 2017 came Posted; 2019’s Finding Orion; and last year’s One Last Shot. All of these were heartfelt contemporary dramas with doses of humor.
With STOWAWAY, Anderson takes us to the future and a space adventure involving a war like none other.
When scientists discover a rare and mysterious mineral buried in the Earth’s crust, they have no idea that it just happens to be the most valuable substance in the entire universe. It’s not long before aliens show up to our little corner of the galaxy offering a promise of protection, some fabulous new technology, and entry into their intergalactic coalition—all in exchange for this precious resource. A material so precious that other alien forces are willing to start a war over it. A war that soon makes its way to Earth.
Leo knows this all too well. His mother was killed in one such attack, and soon after, his father, a Coalition scientist, decides it would be best for them to leave Earth behind. It’s on this expedition that their ship is attacked, Leo’s father is kidnapped, and Leo and his brother are stranded in the middle of space. The only chance they have is for Leo to stow away on a strange ship of mercenary space pirates bound for who knows where and beg the captain to help him find his father.
But the road is dangerous, and pirates, of course, only look out for themselves. Leo must decide who to trust as he tries to stay alive and save his family, even as he comes to understand that there aren’t many people—human or alien—that he can count on in this brave new universe.
At nearly 400 pages, I’d hold off if new to the MG label. This is best for patient science fiction readers who don’t have many selections to choose from in this genre. Although it is tagged as 3-8th grade, I’d also recommend closer to 6-8th grade with some of the content. Nothing close to the YA realm but inching that way.
The concept of a found family is an important one to cover whether a story is set now or in the future. Leo must connect with his “new” family while searching for his own. The backstory is covered throughout the pages and I would have like to have this made into two books with the backstory becoming a book of it’s own. But that’s just me.
There will be a sequel to this epic beginning given the TO BE CONTINUED… statement at the end plus an epilogue.
If you are fan of Star Trek or Star Wars, this one is for you.
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT STOWAWAY by John David Anderson
- There are an engaging set of space characters. Baz, Kat, Boo, and Skits the Robot have wide ranging personalities and they bring many surprises to the story.
- Leo is a believable character as he tries to understand the politics of what is going on in the universe. The third person narration stays close to him the entire way and it’s time well spent.
- The decisions world leaders of countries made to buy into the help of an alien group was also believable and a little scary.
- Older brother Gareth is the impetus of the plot though not in the center of the action. His role in the second book will be intriguing to follow.
- The story had me thinking this would make a great discussion topic: With climate change and disappearing fuel sources big issues right now, if we do nothing to correct this pattern is the world characterized in Stowaway inevitable?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John David Anderson is the author of several critically-acclaimed novels for young people. He lives with his patient wife and brilliant twins in Indianapolis, Indiana, right next to a State park and a Walmart. He does not wear ties. He enjoys hiking, reading, chocolate, spending time with his family, playing the piano, chocolate, putting off the dishes, watching movies, and chocolate. Those aren’t his real teeth. Not all of them, anyway.
There are lots of ways to contact him. Telepathy, for example. Carrier pigeon. Alien distress beacon. Sky writing. Failing those, you can always e-mail him here. Be sure to tell him how his book has revolutionized your life, or, barring that, how you used it to smash a bug or something.
(For more about John and his books take a side trip over to his author website.)
I received a copy of STOWAWAY in exchange for my honest review. Check out all the other MMGM bloggers here.
Be sure to leave a comment below!
I also liked Sidekicked and The Dungeoneers, although I would have liked that one a lot more had I realized at the beginning it was a Dungeons and Dragons homage! Ms. Bixby’s Last Day is phenomenal, and I’m always glad to see sci fi adventure like Stowaway.
This sounds like a great sci fi book for kids. The family aspect of this book sounds more appealing to me than the alien aspect. I loved Ms. Bixby’s Last Day and I like Anderson’s writing.
This sounds like an excellent book! I haven’t had a chance to read any of Anderson’s books, although I did have a copy of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day once. But his books seem to garner tons of praise, and this story sounds like a very unique one—and like you mention at the end, the scenario seems unnervingly realistic considering how we are treating this planet. Thanks so much for the great review!
I love books about space, and this seems like it’d be a book I’d really like!
This sounds like a book older middle graders who enjoy sci-fi would like. It’s long but has a real adventure. At least it sounds like it from the blurbl.
I like John David Anderson’s books, but I am not a fan of SciFi. But it’s always good to know about books in case someone I know is looking. Thanks for the review.
Ooh, this sounds interesting, even if a bit long!
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