________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 10 . . . . November 11, 2016


MiNRS 2.

Kevin Sylvester.
New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Distributed in Canada by Simon & Schuster), 2016.
348 pp., hardcover & ebook, $22.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4814-4042-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4814-4044-8 (ebook).

Subject Headings:
Space colonies-Fiction.
Mines and mineral resources-Fiction.
Science fiction.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Todd Kyle.

**** /4



Thatcher grabbed the note from my pocket. He examined the code, and began working out the distances. He smiled. "They've gone to the old mines. Interesting." He looked back up at me. "So, what about you? If we are successful and find your friends, then I'll bring you some amazing cake. If not…then I'll kill you myself."

He turned and marched through the door, barking orders to the guards.

The doors shut. The lights went out.

I knew exactly where he was heading. The coordinates Elena had given me, the ones I'd not given him, would lead right to the dead excavator. The excavator we'd booby-trapped with explosives. I knew Elena would go back there now too. She would go back there and rig enough explosives to blow Thatcher and his troops halfway through the stratosphere.

I hoped she had time to do that and get away. If not, I'd just put her in harm's way. But Elena knew I was going to be captured. She had meant for me to send Thatcher to an all-out battle.
My terms.

At least I hoped that was what she'd meant.

Again the water began to drip somewhere in the darkness.

Each drop sounded like a second ticking by as I waited to see if I'd made the right decision—or handed Thatcher another, final, victory.

In this sequel to MiNRS, Christopher and the rest of the group of children, the only survivors of a violent attack on the mining colony planetoid Perses, confront the return of the mysterious invaders they christen Landers. Forced underground once more, the group struggle to survive and fight their enemy, moving from safe haven to safe haven, digging new tunnels and caverns as they need. Aided by a single contact on Earth through the radio beacon they christen the Oracle, the group learn that the invaders are led by the power-hungry Kirk Thatcher who is scheming to take over the mining venture amid a revolt by the child slaves known as grinders. Amid conflict, food shortages, subterfuge, ambushes, and violent deaths, the group finally pull together a plan to defeat Thatcher's troops. The book ends with the group destroying the Landers' spaceship, leaving them with a smaller shuttle, and no idea if and how it can be flown to Earth.

      As with the first book, MiNRS 2 is exciting, action-packed, violent, complex, and thoroughly spellbinding. The group struggle against incredible odds, suffering numerous casualties, never knowing whom to trust or whether they will live another day. But it is the ethical and the tactical that propels this book and makes it impossible to put down. Chris is in perpetual conflict with Elena, the strong-willed military tactician, and Fatima, the justice-seeking and incredulous former grinder. A constant back-and-forth among the three plays on disagreements about survival versus conquest, unity versus separation, trust versus skepticism. Chris can't stop himself wondering whether any grinder can be trusted, and Fatima can't stop mistrusting the intentions of the "rich boy" leading them.

      Central to the tension is Elena's belief that they must win, no matter who dies, and that no one person is worth saving if it endangers the rest of the group. When Christopher, himself, is captured, that belief is put to the test. Elena's last words to him are numbers and the words "my terms" which he guesses were a code key to lead Thatcher to an ambush while no effort would be made at his rescue. Only when he is sure that they have left him to die is Chris able to break down before Thatcher's torture and convincingly divulge the code key so as to make Thatcher believe it leads to the group's safe haven. Instead, Elena and Fatima rescue him while Thatcher searches for the group in vain, and this time they do so on Chris' terms—no unnecessary killing. It is a masterful drama that cements the power of character to drive the action.

      As with the previous book, there are moments where credulity is stretched just a tad. Anyone who wondered in the first book how the crew were able to breathe in just-dug tunnels, far away from mining infrastructure, will take note that the second book explains about the invention of "heavy oxygen" which penetrates the soil and creates breathable air in any caverns. At times, understanding the complex web of codes and messages is difficult—most notably, their discovery that the Oracle needs to be reprogrammed regularly to a coded sequence spelling out the word THINK in order to keep communications secure. But as with the previous book, flaws like this are more than compensated for by the political, social, and moral drama that resonates well in our times. The third book will be highly anticipated by all readers.

Highly Recommended.

Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario and President of the Ontario Library Association.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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