A twelve-year-old boy and his friends must find a way to survive in the mining tunnels after their new space colony is attacked in this gritty action-adventure novel.
In space. Underground. And out of time.
Twelve-year-old Christopher Nichols lives on an asteroid. Earth has been mined to the edge of extinction. Dozen of families, including Christopher’s, have relocated to space to work as miners for terraforming companies.
Then a Blackout hits and the colonists lose communication with Earth. Which means they are on their own when they are ruthlessly attacked.
Now in a race against time, Christopher, along with a small group of survivors, are forced into the maze of mining tunnels. The kids run. They hide. But can they survive?
Why Should I Read This Book?
Those of you who know Sylvester’s previous work, both with the Neil Flambe series and his many non-fiction works will know of his ongoing love of sports, food and humour. What you may not know is that he’s also a space nut who lists 2001 as one of his favourite movies of all time. It was this love of space that led him to write MINRS, an action-adventure like nothing he’s done before, set on the asteroid Perses where a small number of families are attempting to settle the planetoid as part of the Melming Mining Corporation.
The action kicks off pretty much immediately, with Christopher and his family attending a blackout party when intruders – space pirates! – attack the settlement in an effort to capture all the ore and minerals on the planet. It’s a tough beginning for younger readers, as the adults are pretty much all killed off, and only a handful of kids – Christopher included – are left to escape underground. There, they have to gather themselves and to deal with their PTSD in order to survive. I was particularly glad that the kids didn’t just ‘shake off’ the attacks as if they were nothing; seeing their parents killed in front of them would have been horrific, and their reactions are honest and legitimate.
Here’s the thing: while this is most definitely an adventure/survival book, there’s a whole lot more going on. Christopher needs to come to terms with the loss of his parents, but he also begins to learn more about himself and what he is capable of doing during times of crisis. Each of the surviving children must learn to cope with the resulting situation in the best way they can – for some, it’s powered by revenge, while for others, a need for survival becomes their driving force. Additionally, without hammering the point, Sylvester manages to touch on issues of ecology and environmental responsibility in the mining industry, the ongoing examination of privilege and all that entails, as well as the concepts of right and wrong and the shades of grey that lie between.
I found myself completely drawn into the world as the kids explored life underground, and I was as eager as Christopher to decipher the clues that could help him save the other MINRS. We are there as he becomes more aware of the bigger picture of what is happening with Perses and Melming Mining, and I especially enjoyed seeing how Christopher began to re-examine his own beliefs. As in real life, things don’t go smoothly and not everyone ends up okay. People Christopher thought he could count on are not exactly who they purported to be, and this, along with approaching danger of the attackers, leaves the book with a significant cliffhanger that leads well into Book #2.
Give Me Some (non-spoiler) Quotes to Convince Me:
“Hans Melming, the man behind the company, was a genius and a scientist of almost unlimited creativity. He was one of my heroes. And I was part of his Great Mission.”
“Why did they even bring kids here?” she asked as the elevator doors slid open.
“I’m glad they did. This is an adventure.”
“Uh-huh,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Tenth floor,” she said.
“You have two minutes until school begins,” said the elevator.
“An adventure with elevators that think they’re your mother,” she said.
MINRS is published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, and a copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. It is available now for purchase from your favourite online, big-box or independent bookseller. ISBN: 9781481440394, 336 pages.