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4.0 out of 5 starsCreative adventure that just begins in this book 1 of a series of 7
Reviewed in the United States on 6 March 2017
Horizon (Horizon, Book 1) One downside Horizon book 1 - Being patient and waiting for the rest of the books to come out to continue reading this action packed adventure story. I have never read anything from Scott Westerfeld before reading this book. Now this is Book 1 in a series and I am not sure how many will be written by this author. It says that Book 2 is going to come out September of 2017 authored by Jennifer A Nielsen. I can only hope it is as interesting and attention keeping as this one has been.
I have to admit when I first started reading this book I had not realized it was in the sci-fi genre. I knew it to be for middle school grades and I think they are right on target for the age group. With that being said It was a bit of a struggle in the beginning reading this but I am glad I did not give it up. Now I have to wait for the next one to figure out more of what is going on in the story.
Yes there are parts that might be a bit much for sensitive readers to handle. There is a plane crash where it is presumed that some 500 people die. Yet no bodies are found and I for one am hoping that the answer to an alternative to what might have happened is in another book.
Now there are kids stranded in a not so real world. At least not a world they have ever experienced before. Where they come across strange things in nature that are unlike anything anyone has ever encountered on earth. Or is it really earth..and maybe just a hidden part of it that someone created but for what reason? And that no one knew about until this plane crashes into it. Even the plane crash is under question. Was it on purpose? Is there meaning behind this group of kids that survived the crash and are now left stranded.
This is honestly I think the kind of book that would really get the creative minds of 8-12 year olds going. Sometimes it is just so hard to find the right book to hold their interest. Horizon I think is just that book. You find yourself trying to solve the problems they are facing just as if you were there with them. It is not a simple quick fix or even a quick read because this book continues into the next one. So this is certainly going to be a series that you have to start at Horizons Book1 before reading the next one. Just have to now be patient as we wait for the next book to come out later this year.
I try to to give spoilers away in my reviews. There might be parts some are not comfortable with. The idea of the other passengers being dead but there is no dead bodies - not yet anyway. There is one of the child survivors who did end up dying. So there is death in the book But not brutal gruesome creepy death. I think this is a book that many kids in the 5th-7th grade range will enjoy. Has plenty of adventure and imagination to keep them interested. I can not wait for the next book in this series. Which surprises me because I did not think I would like it but as it went on I got more and more caught up in what is happening and now I have to know what is next.
Remember that TV show, Lost? A bunch of people survive a plain crash and end up on an island with mysteries and unknown peril and more mysteries? This is basically the kids' book version, at least so far. Mysterious plane crash, mysterious 'island' of jungle in the arctic, mysterious dangers, and many a problem to be solved.
The author does a decent job of giving the kids all different personalities (one is even hinted to be on the Autism Spectrum), and different skills that they contribute to the group. Most problems are solved with logic and reason, but every once in a while violence is required.
I think the big question for readers is... so this is a planned 7 (i think, maybe 8?) book series that'll be handed off to a new author for each volume. Will the story flow with so many hand-offs? The only way to know is to read on (or to wait until the series is complete and look for reviews of the whole thing). So far they're only listing the author for books 1 and 2, suggesting they may not even have anyone lined up for sure for the others yet. It's literally impossible to predict how the series will fare, both in content and quality.
The next question is, of course, if this is 'Lost' for kids is it going to go as far off the rails as the TV show did? Alas, only one way to find out.
4.0 out of 5 starsOld School D&D Meets New School Fiction
Reviewed in the United States on 12 July 2017
Scott Westerfield is a gamer. You wouldn't know that from just reading the book, although you might be able to guess it. But his preface to the review copy is really illuminating:
"It's the first time I've had the opportunity to craft a gaming experience set within the world of one of my novels. In that sense, Horizon is bringing me back to my authorial roots as a twelve-year-old gamer, when I used dice and graph paper to manage the fates of elves and orcs in shared, social storytelling. (Also known as role-playing games!)"
Westerfield didn't come out and say that he was playing Dungeons & Dragons, but that's most certainly what he meant. In fact, he references role-playing games no less than three times in that preface, which has to be a new record. It shows in every aspect of the book: there's a sci-fi device that lets characters jump through the air like in wuxia martial arts movies; combat robots, killer plants, and an axe beaks stalk our heroes; and there's even a guy with a katana. If I were to guess, Shadowrun was more Westerfield's speed.
I read this book to my nine-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl. They enjoyed it, but it's worth mentioning that Westerfield pulls no punches. A plane crashes, people are presumed dead, and at least one main character dies "on screen." Death is very much a concern and the other characters ruminate on it frequently.
Given that this is part one of a seven-book series, not much is actually resolved. The characters spend most of their time just surviving and figuring out where they are. The characters are interesting but because of the long story arc, don't reach their full potential -- several are from a robot engineering team but they never get to build any robots (surely, this will happen in future books!).
Overall, this is a fun adventure inspired by tabletop RPG nostalgia, which will surely go over some kids' heads...unless you're a big kid, in which case you better duck before the Dreadful Duck of Doom gets you.
Horizon is an intelligent adventure book. It gives nods to both old time adventures like Jules Verne or HG Wells the lost world, while keeping the story line fresh and modern.
Students are going to a robot fighting final and along the way something happens to their plane, landing them in a world they aren't familiar with. Trying to survive, get out, with odds stacked against them. A jungle? in the antarctic, with most of the other passengers on the plane dead.
the action is fast paced and the book doesn't shy away from some seriously intense moments. It's age group is for HS and up
The characters are well written interesting, as is the plot, the adventures, and the book is a mostly satisfying read.
4.0 out of 5 starsAction from chapter one on. Solid middle school read. Part #1 of a series.
Reviewed in the United States on 3 January 2017
This is a fun action packed story that is multi-cultural and quickly paced. I found it just right for a middle school level reader. There is a lot going on and younger readers may struggle a bit to keep all the threads straight. It appears that other authors are writing future installments. The chapters alternate their focus on specific characters.
There is a lot of ethnic diversity here but unlike many children's/YA books, It didn't feel like overkill. Ending is kind of cliff-hangery so if your reader is really in love with this book, it seems book #2 doesn't come out until September.
(Written by a 13 year old). Interesting plot and very suspenseful with lots of twists. A little confused about how the series works since they are written by different authors (see back of book). Fun to read but not much of a resolution in the end. Hopefullly new books will give some answers.
I am not always a fan of these series with multiple authors, but I have read the first two in this series and really like them. There is a neat hook/premise, plenty of action and survival scenes that my students really go for and plenty of questions for readers to puzzle over.