The Thirteenth Circle

Feiwel & Friends. Jan. 2024. 320p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250891594; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781250891617.
Gr 5 Up–Reluctantly partnered to compete for the McMurray Youth Science Award, seventh graders Cat Mulvaney and Dani Williams are determined to win, but have different motives. Cat is intent on proving the existence of extraterrestrial life and impressing her scientist father. But Dani does not believe in aliens, and she’s certain the crop circles that appear in their town every 13 years must have some other explanation. Plus, Dani needs the McMurray judges to find scientific merit in her project so that she can escape her parents’ expectation that she’ll attend art camp again this summer. So, the young scientists set out to prove two different hypotheses for what could be causing the crop circles. In chapters that alternate between the two perspectives, Connolly and Holmes craft a science fiction mystery filled with plenty of twists and turns. From late night evidence gathering in the corn fields to sneaking into the hotel suite of suspected Men in Black, Cat and Dani end up investigating more than just science. Overall, the story is fun and engaging, but many of the characters’ secrets seem inserted only to drive the plot; the story hinges much more on action than on strong character development. Still, the final message of the value of honesty and teamwork rings true, even if some of the lead-up feels thin. All main characters are presumed white.
VERDICT A solid purchase for large collections, or where supernatural mysteries are in high demand.

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