________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 41 . . . . June 22, 2018

cover

MiNRS 3.

Kevin Sylvester.
Toronto, ON: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2018.
330 pp., hardcover & ebook, $22.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-5011-9528-0 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-5011-9530-3 (ebook).

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Todd Kyle.

**** /4

   

excerpt:

Once again the woman's voice returned, dissatisfied. "Codes not recognized. This is your final warning."

Thatcher laughed.

I bent my head to my chest. We were trapped. Everything I'd tried had gone wrong. I'd responded to the Oracle—leading them to our coordinates—for a useless code. Maybe it had been another trap all along. Not the Oracle at all but a decoy, luring me to stupidly reveal our position by using our transmitter.

Thatcher had obviously timed his escape attempt to coincide with crossing the border into Earth's defensive zone. He'd outsmarted me again.

"MMS Medusa. Ships are being dispatched. If you continue on course you will be intercepted and destroyed."

"They'll be in firing range in about fifty minutes," Thatcher said.

"Elena," I called. "Bring him in."

"What?" She sounded shocked, furious. "Chris, no. It's some kind of trick!"

"It doesn't matter. We have no choice." I almost added, "It's over." But I just couldn't accept that… at least not yet.

Christopher and the remaining children from MiNRS2, having defeated Kirk Thatcher and his invaders of their mining colony of Perses, decide to return to Earth using the one functioning transport ship left. Leaving behind the youngest, Darcy, in the care of Therese, the five others manage to chart a course to Earth, only to find that Thatcher has somehow survived and is hiding on the ship. Using him as a hostage in order to land on Earth, they escape in a digger and go underground, aided by the "grinder" mining slaves who are in the midst of a revolt. Following a trail of clues to dangerous caverns, they finally meet the Oracle who risked her life to communicate with them, and she turns out to be Tatiana Melming, the disillusioned granddaughter of Hans Melming, the founder of the mining empire, who has unwittingly let Thatcher take over his operation and the world government. Pursued by Thatcher and his troops, they finally make their way to meet Melming in his cabin in rural Norway and expose Thatcher by using a video of him killing one of the grinder children in cold blood. Melming manages to broadcast the video and Thatcher's confession to the whole world, killing Thatcher before dying himself.

      MiNRS 3 is a triumphant and satisfying conclusion to the "MiNRS" series that ups the ante on complexity, intrigue, danger, and the children's incredible reserves of ingenuity. Chris, Elena, and Fatima are in fine form as a triad of young people with the same mission but very different views on how to get there, resulting in some dramatic and shifting ethical and tactical arguments. A fourth, Pavel, always suspected of being a collaborator, ultimately shows himself a traitor, unable to escape his deep-seated hatred of grinders. His obviously regretful and torn character is crystallized in a scene where, just before his death (Thatcher has outfitted him as a suicide bomber), Chris tells him how he has learned that Pavel's mother was a hero to the rebellion. The fifth character, the medically-gifted Mandeep, is less well-developed, although no less resourceful and crucial to their survival.

      With the return to Earth, readers have a chance to get a fuller picture of the history that has led to this point—a history of resource depletion, scientific ingenuity, and lust for power and riches. Thatcher, himself, is clearly brilliant, almost superhuman in his survival skills, and his painful ethical debates with Chris make for fascinating reading. The view from the inside of an uprising of the downtrodden grinders is no less fascinating, showing a movement where all players are heroic but no one is a full hero. The moral ambiguity is more than matched by the complex, occasionally almost baffling series of intrigues and clues, no more so that the description of Melming's cabin that Tatiana makes Chris memorize before she dies—a description that helps them locate the centre of world power in the Norwegian forest. There is a constant sense that Chris and his group are one step ahead; they go from plans to action without explanation, leaving the reader to piece the rationale together from the crumbs dropped during and after execution. It's a disconcerting experience—but one that propels the book and makes it impossible to put down.

      The book ends with the children in hospital recovering from their near-death injuries and learning that the world government has reasserted its authority and is promising equal rights to all. It's a conclusion that might seem anticlimactic and even anodyne, but after the deaths and suffering of many of the protagonists, not to mention the roller coaster the reader has endured, this is rare light and hopeful moment in a children's book that most adults would find challenging.

Highly Recommended.

Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario and a board member of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations-Fédération canadienne des associations de bibliothèques.

To comment on this title or this review, contact cm@umanitoba.ca.

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