- The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-246255-8 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-246317-3 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–6
The selection process for inclusion in the first mission to Mars is rigorous, but [End Page 470] Miranda is chosen to be one of only six young teens on it. She really doesn’t have time to enjoy her success, however, as multiple attempts on her life suggest someone is targeting her and, as if that weren’t dire enough, the young astronauts are accidentally blasted off to Mars prematurely after someone tampers with what should have been a simple dry run. The youngsters aren’t prepared and they don’t all get along, but now they’ve got to figure out how to reverse course and also how to prevent the war that is brewing back home. Miranda’s underestimated smarts come into full power once true emergencies hit. She’s not always the first to catch social cues, but her creativity, robotics skills, and knowledge of the ship are absolutely essential for their survival. The other teens blend together just a bit, other than the irascible but equally brilliant Anna, but they’re a diverse, well-rounded crew. Readers who get excited about all things STEM related will soak up the science sprinkled throughout with ease, and they’ll also likely be the most curious about the newsy author’s note that explains her extensive research process and all of the people, places, and resources that made this a fictional (but scientifically reasonable) novel.