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Book review: 'Island of the Sun' is a fun, fast-paced adventure for middle grade readers

Posted May 9

"ISLAND OF THE SUN: Dark Gravity Sequence, Vol. 2," by Matthew J. Kirby, Balzer and Bray, $16.99, 384 pages (f) (ages 8-12)

Spunky heroine Eleanor and her unlikely group of friends return in the new middle grade adventure “Island of the Sun,” by Matthew J. Kirby. “Island of the Sun” is the second book in the Dark Gravity Sequence trilogy, which begins with “The Arctic Code.”

Using a mysterious connection to alien technology, Eleanor narrowly manages to shut down the Arctic Concentrator. She is now on the run from the nefarious Global Energy Trust and its armed agents. G.E.T. labels Eleanor, her mom and their friends as terrorists, and they scramble to stay one step ahead of G.E.T.’s long reach in a nerve-wracking race across the globe.

Faced with G.E.T.’s unlimited resources and U.N. backing, Eleanor has only a slim chance of success. Regardless, the impulsive, unfailingly optimistic Eleanor refuses to stray from her quest to shut down the other Concentrators and thereby save the planet.

She knows G.E.T.’s secret and the truth behind its Preservation Protocol. Each day the Concentrators are functional, they pull the earth farther from orbit. As a result, global temperatures plummet and a sheet of ice expands to encase the planet. The loyalty of Eleanor and her friends is tested as they are pushed to their limits, and they must question their resolve in the face of overwhelming odds.

Kirby delivers a larger-than-life adventure that moves at a blistering pace and keeps readers captivated. The story requires a certain amount of credulity as there are noticeable plot gaps even the youngest middle grade readers may discern. Nevertheless, Kirby’s fun, fast-paced story carries the day with its straightforward writing style and likable characters.

Kirby addresses themes of not fitting in, feeling misunderstood by parents, and the difficulties broken or nontraditional families face. All of these themes zero in on some real-life challenges of middle grade readers and are likely to resonate with those readers.

“Island of the Sun” contains no sexual content, a few instances of mild language and some violent action sequences, including gunfights, zombie-mummies and crowd hostility. The descriptions are age-appropriate.

Dave Palmer is an Army combat veteran and tech nerd, and voracious reader, who when not writing works as a regional manager for a local staffing company. Contact him at: dave@palmerfreelance.com.

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