D. Robert Pease is two for two. His first MG novel, Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, was given the very first Bookworm Blather Squeaky Award. His sequel, Cataclysm, will be receiving another. (Check out my review of Noah Zarc and my 5-Q interview with the author.)
In book one, Noah’s family had embarked on a scientific mission of repopulating the earth with animals. But Haon Craz had done his best to thwart their efforts. Now, we find out another side of this villain. A visit to Venus shows Noah the horrible squalor the Venetians live in. Haon, he learns, isn’t against the ARC project so much as he is for recolonizing the earth with people. But the Poligarchy, in an effort to keep its rigid control over the solar system, won’t allow it. Yet we’re never quite sure if Haon is really a good guy. In fact, he seems downright suspect. Now Noah is having dreams that link him to Haon and cause him to seek the man out. Only that was Haon’s plan all along. Haon needs Noah to fly the ship back in time to implement his plan to prevent the cataclysm that destroyed earth in the first place. But is Haon really preventing it…or causing it?
This is another great mind-bender. The wild time jump details are fabulously thought out and cause some unexpected results. And we are introduced to some cool robot characters with personalities (personhoods, actually) of their own. Noah and James, one of the robots, share a special connection due to the neuro chip implanted in Noah’s brain. This gives them a direct mental link that comes in handy. They’re like brother, twins, two of the same person, almost. (“I felt like I was actually discovering who I was. And I realized I didn’t mind hanging out with me.”) Noah can even inhabit James, giving him a physical presence outside his own body and a chance to use his legs for the first time. Noah’s handicap gives readers a ready way to identify with him. We may not all be wheelchair- (okay, magchair-) bound, but don’t we all live with something we wish we could change? I know I do.
I have very little bad to say about this series. It can be a little difficult to follow at times, especially if I’m reading in the evening after a long day. You have to stay up on the details, and it moves fast. Also, there are a lot of unnecessary commas that slow the flow of the sentences. But I can live with both of those. There’s so much good in the series: family, nobility, sacrifice, friendship, excitement, and imagination, not to mention a complete lack of offensive subjects and language. I also really appreciate the high value Mr. Pease gives to people. Cavemen are intelligent and enterprising, and the world was made for people. This implies intention and purpose, not chance and degradation. That is so refreshing to find.
In conclusion, this is a fun read with no caution flags. I highly recommend the series. Probably a 10+ independent reading level, but a great read aloud for those a few years younger.
They’re a steal on Kindle: