Europa Academy Book 1 by Myles Christensen
Published on: January 25, 2020
Although this gives every appearance of being a book that introduces middle grade children to the science fiction genre, make no mistake this is most definitely an introduction to the thriller genre as well.
He has trouble following the rules on Earth. But this trip to Jupiter’s moon could kill his curiosity for good…
Thirteen-year-old Max Parker is a grounded Earthling with the soul of a space explorer. So when he learns his family is relocating to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, he readily agrees to stay out of mischief. But his promise is soon forgotten, and his snooping lands him on a shuttle doomed for a fiery disintegration.
Convinced someone sabotaged the craft to cover up the theft he witnessed, he digs into the incident. Why was this robbery worth attempted murder? Dodging a series of deadly accidents, he follows the clues to an abandoned outpost and discovers a secret that could blow the lid off a moon-wide conspiracy…
Can Max solve the mystery before his interplanetary escapade gets him killed?
Frozen Secrets kicks off the thrilling, teen science fiction series, Europa Academy. If you like fearless friends, high-orbit mysteries, and immersive worlds, then you’ll love Myles Christensen’s action-packed adventure.
The premise of this series is that a new city is being built on Europa. The fathers of 13-year-old Max and his friend Jonathan had previously been part of a Europa base that had been destroyed in an explosion and they are now being asked to come back with their families and live there at the city. Of course, if you are going to have families then you’re definitely going to need a school, which is how Europa Academy comes into the picture. Families from all over Earth come to live on Europa, making it very multi-cultural and soon the kids are getting to know each and diving into all the adventures that Europa can provide and then some. There are also some crushes and flirting with others that occur too, albeit awkwardly since this is middle school.
I’m not exactly sure what took me so long, but I believe it was about the 3rd serious near-death experience that the kids in the story encountered when I finally realized this wasn’t just an adventure story, but in actuality a thriller within a science fiction story.
What makes this a thriller? Without giving anything away, let’s just say Max loves adventure and danger and wants to be a spy when he grows up. Prior to arriving on Europa there had been a disaster at the base. The disaster had killed 3 individuals. Shortly after leaving Earth Max spies someone acting a bit too secretive and one thing leads to another and somehow we find our main characters in multiple near-death moments where the kids have to think on their feet to survive. Literally survive. But these aren’t moments where an accident has occurred or where the kids are just being kids and find that they have put themselves into bad situations, these are premeditated sabotage events that only come from an outside villain.
This story has all the elements a typical thriller book would have (but in middle grade appropriateness) that includes a definite heightened sense of suspense, conspiracies, electronic surveillance and spying, red herrings, but most importantly the bad guys coming after Max again and again in more than an ‘adventure-style setting.’ If that isn’t enough to declare it a thriller, then there is even a car chase.
Fun Fact from the Book: A day in Europa is approximately 85 hours.
This one made me think – How long does a child go to school each day on Europa? How would that actually work? Typically on Earth a child goes to school approximately 1/4-1/3 of each day. But considering the length of a day on Europa, would that mean they are at school for 21 to 28 hours? Probably not, but it gave me something to think about. In this story, there is actually a city clock that everyone goes by so they don’t go by Europa’s day.
Overall, this is an enjoyable read with lots of thrills that will keep a middle grader on the edge of their seat.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley and Moon Zoom Press for the advanced reader copy and the opportunity to provide an honest review.