Professor Richard Helms heads up a tight-knit band of scientists and soldiers sent to explore New Amazon, a lush but savage planet seemingly determined to attack them at every turn. When they are done cataloguing every detail of this vast, unfamiliar ecosystem, they will burn it to the ground and make it fit for human habitation. But when the team falls under attack, Helms and his followers are forced to flee into the depths of the jungle. Here, old enemies and petty rivalries surface as they struggle to survive. They soon end up fighting for their lives – against the planet they are exploring, the robots designed to protect them and, most of all, against each other. For the countdown into madness is ticking.
Two things to note on this one: First—Amazing; Second: Not a kids book by any means. Normally I wouldn’t review a book that was clearly more for adults than for tweens or teens, but there was something particularly special about Palmer’s imaginative world. There were Godzillas, Cyclops, people running around in full-body space suit things, and tons more.
So this is why I chose to review it here, other than that it was awesome: it reminds me of when I was a kid, playing with toys and imagining worlds for them—minus the sex and swearing. I’m sure there are many who will second that sentiment, and if for nothing else, I thought I would review it here specifically to recommend it to more mature readers who will appreciate that element.
On the literary end, it’s rare to see an author who takes chances in the way a science fiction book is written. Almost all of them are completely linear, showing a dystopian future where the good guys have to fight against the government who takes their rights away and makes everyone be exactly the same—death to creativity, death to beauty and imagination. This novel still has some of that, as any good sci fi book should, but the novel really isn’t about fighting the government as much as it is the human responsibility to protect a world and all its species from total annihilation (sound familiar?). At least that’s one of the main themes.
The others are what makes it such a stellar read, not to mention that Palmer has written it in a somewhat unique and inventive style. The chapters only mark the passage of days as they go by, and every page is interspersed with short snippets of each main/sub main character and their point of view on what’s happening at that exact moment. That tactic allows the reader to empathize with several characters and see everything from many points of view. It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it to all readers 16+.
For the Classroom
Since this text operates in a parallel world with separate cultures, societal issues, natural laws and histories than our own, there’s not much to use as a classroom companion.