Project Terra: Bites Back

illus. by Keith Zoo. 240p. (Project Terra: Bk. 2). Penguin Workshop. Jun. 2018. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780515157949.
Gr 4–6—Fans of Walker's 2017 Crash Course should be pleased with this sequel which packs in just as much action, science, and flair as its predecessor. After her explosive first year, second-year terraforming student Elara Adele Vaughn is looking forward to returning to her study of planet building at the Seven Systems School of Terraforming Sciences and Arts. However, Elara is disappointed to find that the school has been shut down in response to last year's dangerous events, and the students, who hail from planets all over the galaxy, will now study aboard a moving schoolship. It doesn't take long for Elara to suspect that there's something fishy about the new schoolship, which is run entirely by artificial intelligence and seems more concerned with teaching loyalty than terraforming. Elara shares her suspicions with her friends, but their apathy about the mysterious changes leaves Elara feeling angry and alone. With the help of a strange new power, a surprising ally, and some creative thinking, Elara is able to track down the man in charge, known only as the Watchman. The fun of the first novel is dampened by fewer interactions between Elara and her quirky alien friends. Nevertheless, a strong female heroine, an abundance of action, and positive messages about interpersonal relationships make this a worthy choice for middle grade readers.
VERDICT Recommended for general purchase, or for libraries looking to boost their middle grade science fiction collections.

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