When I was in high school, Ender’s Game was one of my favorite books, even though I didn’t read a lot of science fiction at the time. Reading The Orpheus Plot by Christopher Swiedler brought back a lot of the emotions I had when reading Ender’s Game for the first time, and confident newer young adult readers who appreciate both space-age detail and human emotional development will really enjoy this book!
The Orpheus Plot
By Christopher Swiedler
Even after conquering the challenges of space exploration, humans are likely to continue to experience the same interpersonal conflicts that have plagued them through all of time. Thirteen-year-old Lucas Adebayo is a Belter, having grown up in the Asteroid Belt and away from the comforts of gravity. His piloting skills are exceptional, and while he dreams of steering a ship as grand as the Orpheus, his options are limited because of his upbringing. When Lucas receives the unexpected offer to become a cadet in the Navy on the Orpheus, he cannot be more thrilled. That is, until he sets foot in his new home to realize just how different he is from his peers. Circumstances change quickly for Lucas, challenging him in myriad ways as he works to unite the two disparate worlds he is a part of in order to save them both.
Compellingly written, this story rewards engineering-minded young adult readers with a complex and engaging narrative placed in the depths of space. Relevant terminology peppers each scene, orienting readers to what life in zero gravity is like amidst more recognizable relationships among the characters. Riveting action sequences increase the intensity of the book as Lucas and his companions find themselves in perilous situations they would not encounter were they on Earth. Accompanying this is rich character development as Lucas exhibits wisdom beyond his years while navigating his burgeoning leadership skills and more adult feelings toward his crew mates.
Space is a dynamic setting for this coming-of-age story because it incorporates a plethora of elements that divide humanity. Fans of Ender’s Game and The Maze Runner will recognize similar intensities in this book, as well. Satisfying in its delivery, this book connects readers to a complex yet accessible narrative while resolving in an eloquent manner. The structure of the novel is well-designed for a newer young adult audience, but readers will often forget Lucas’ true age because of his composure and maturity. Young adult science fiction readers will appreciate the layers found in this dramatic story and will consider their own actions and behaviors alongside Lucas and his friends.
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