Monday, April 15, 2013

MMGM: Mirage by Jen Reese

Date Published: March 12, 2013
ISBN: 0763654183
Genre: middle grade science fiction, fantasy
Themes: determination, sacrifice, friendship, family, honor
Publisher: Candlewick Press

See my review of Above World, the first book in the awesome series, here.

About The Book: 
A thrilling sequel from an exciting new voice in middle-grade sci-fi tracks two ocean-born children braving the dangers of the Above World.
The desert is no place for ocean-dwelling Kampii like Aluna and Hoku, especially now that Aluna has secretly started growing her tail. But the maniacal Karl Strand is out to conquer the Above World, and the horselike Equians are next on his list. Aluna, Hoku, and their friends — winged Calli and Equian exile Dash — race to the desert city of Mirage, intent on warning the Equians. When they arrive, Strand’s clone, Scorch, has gotten there first. Now the Equian leader has vowed to take all his people to war as part of Strand’s army. Any herd that refuses to join him by the time of the desert-wide competition known as the Thunder Trials will be destroyed. To have any chance of defeating Scorch and convincing the Equians to switch sides, the four friends must find a way to win the Trials. The challenge seems impossible. But if they fail, the desert — and possibly all of the Above World — will be lost to Karl Strand forever.

First Line: Aluna ran toward a patch of rocks and scrubby trees trying to reach it's shade before the next wave of pain struck.

Great Line: "Everyone is weak sometimes. That is why everyone needs friends." —Dash

What Others Are Saying: "A strong, seemingly indestructible warrior, Aluna discovers she must rely on her friends to survive as the battle to save Above World continues. A powerful sequel with sustained themes of friendship and honor." —Kirkus Review

"A science fiction adventure with a martial arts heroine who rides an intelligent horse and has a boyfriend who wields a big sword? What young person wouldn’t love it? Aluna’s two techie best friends are also a couple, one a winged girl from the mountain area and the other a younger boy from Aluna’s village who has followed her across the world. All four are strong and interesting characters that have formed sibling-like bonds as they have traveled, fought, and rescued each other." —Bull Speck
Book Bloggers Weigh In:
Through The Looking Glass
Enchanted Inkpot

What I Thought: After the Harry Potter series, I wondered who could build another world with such detail and then there was The Hunger Games. Each time I thought, "How could anyone create a world  as believable, expansive or as unique. Last year, I read another original world building novel, Above World and I again, believed that this could be the new series to love. Now after reading Mirage, my hope has been satisfied that another series has picked up the gauntlet. What I love about Mirage is Reese's use of science fiction tech and imaginative fantastical creatures and then braids them into a tight strong rope.   I was lassoed away into the deserts of the Equians and their deep traditions as it clashes against the realities of war with Carl Strand and his clones. The unlikely heroes, Aluna, Dash, Calli and Hoku unite with new friends Tayan, Tal and Nathif, despite their differences in beliefs and traditions, embrace their differences as strengths and travel the higher road. I can't say enough about the themes of family, sacrifice and honor that resonate from the pages. 

My Analysis
1. POV: Third-person limited omniscience participant.
2. 368 pages
3. The Hook: Aluna's tail fin is evolving and they are deep in the dessert.
4. Inciting event: When they finally reach Mirage, they realize it's too late, Karl Strand and the up-graders have already taken over.
5. Plot and Pace: The first 50% of the book pace seemed slow.The main quest didn't really get started until then. That said, I'm not sure how it could have been speeded up because there are important elements needed for the sequel to stand alone and prepare the reader for the characters individual arcs to resonate, even if the reader hadn't read Above World. Challenging, to say the least.
6. Voice: Reese has a strong tech-geek voice that works and adds to the plausibility of the premise. 

About The Author: Jenn Reese

Interview: My interview with Jenn on World Building.

Who: Writer. Martial artist. Geek.

Jenn writes science fiction and fantasy stories about heroes and adventure and lasting friendships. Her short stories have appeared online in Strange Horizons and in a number of anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning Paper Cities. She makes her home in Los Angeles, a sun-bleached desert city of freaks that she absolutely loves. When she's not sitting in traffic, she's studying martial arts, playing video games, and dreaming of rain. (Hey, Jenn come on up to the NW!)

Novels in the Above World series for ages 10+:
ABOVE WORLD (Candlewick 2012) - 2012 Nominee for SFWA's Andre Norton Award
MIRAGE (Candlewick 2013)
TBD (Candlewick 2014) I can't wait!!

Novels for older teens and adults:
JADE TIGER (June 2007)

Have you read the other MMGM reviews? You can find them in my sidebar ---------------->>>>>>>

Next Week: Calvert the Raven and the Battle of Baltimore by J. Scott Fuqua


  1. I just won both books in this series. Thanks for getting me excited to read them.

  2. I have both books in this series on my list. They sound so good. I loved your review and what you had to say about the world building. Wow! I love HP and The Hunger Games. :)


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