Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12
Recommended for: Ages 10-14
Bottom Line: SIX, a science-fiction novel for middle-graders, offers likeable characters and the intriguing possibility of teleportation.
Parker Banks has had a lot of adjusting to do over the last three years, since his mother was killed in an auto accident. After that loss, the biggest change in his life has been the move from his native London to upstate New York, where his father has accepted a high-pressure research job. Parker’s sister, Emma, has adjusted more easily, in spite of her deafness, but she’s a more outgoing person. The family shares a secret: they can communicate telepathically through a microchip invented by their brilliant father and implanted in their wrists. This nifty device is nothing more than a convenient way to stay in touch, until the day Parker receives an urgent message from his father: I haven’t got long—they’re taking me in . . . to SIX.
What is SIX, and how does one get there? That’s what Parker and Emma have to discover, and they receive timely help in the person of Michael, Parker’s only friend at school. Michael happens to be a nerd, and also very rich. Because his parents happen to be on a long trip, Michael can call on his chauffeur, the excellent and trustworthy Brendan, to drive the kids around anywhere they need to go. And they need to go lots of places while tracking down clues, such as a comics convention and a psych hospital. At times the plot becomes a bit too facile as three middle-graders rather easily outwit an evil conglomerate, and the dialogue can be repetitive (several instances of “Are you okay?”). But its strengths overcome its weaknesses. The ending will surprise, and leave readers guessing about whether or not a sequel will follow. I suspect so, but the story is enjoyable in itself, with fast pacing, likeable characters, strong family bonds, interesting science, and no objectionable content.
Overall Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Categories: Middle Grades, Science Fiction, Character Values