The Planet Thieves
Author: Dan Korkos
Release Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Macmillan, Starscape, Tor/Forge
Source: NetGalley DRC
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction
Don’t let the childish cover or the uninspired title fool you, the Planet Thieves is actually quite a fantastic Middle Grade science fiction story. I don’t blame you for being skeptical. But if you don’t believe me at first, hopefully you will after this review. Or, if you don’t want to take my word for it, how about Warner Bros.? Apparently they optioned the book for film back before it was published so they have a lot of confidence in it. I’m not sure what they’ve got planned for it now. But hey. That’s pretty good, eh?
Anyway, let’s talk about the Planet Thieves.
At first, I was skeptical. Even a good twenty percent of the way through the book I was a little uncertain about what I thought or where the story was going. It starts with a thirteen year old boy named Mason Stark planning to prank his older sister, Susan, while she’s working aboard the Egypt – a ship serving under Earth’s defensive fleet. He’s a cadet working his way up to a command position in a rather similar fashion to Ender’s Game except far less dark and edgy. This Academy seems to raise well adjusted children – even if they also start their training at a young age. (The youngest cadets with Mason’s group were apparently seven years old.) The ultimate goal is to prepare them all to protect Earth from the Tremist who are a humanoid alien species in constant battle with the Humans over a picturesque planet called Nori-Blue.
Unfortunately, what is really just supposed to be a glorified ride along for Mason and the others turns into something much more after a Tremist attack. Suddenly they are forced to fight back against an overpowered and technologically superior force that children should have no hope against. But they aren’t just children. They are soldiers. Mason, his friend Merrin – whose origins turn out to be far more mysterious than anyone had thought, Tom – the captain’s son, and the others band together to try and fight back the Tremist threat that has overrun the Egypt to save not only their families and fellow crew but possibly even Earth itself.
Like I said, at first, I was a little skeptical. I wasn’t sure I really liked Mason much as a character but he grew on me. The plot moves very fast and it unlike lot of books where the main characters are children in extraordinary circumstances I don’t think I ever doubted that these were thirteen year olds. A lot of the time I imagine characters being older but I never had to think of Mason, Merrin, Tom, Stellan, or any of the others as older. The characterizations were written very well and you never really doubted that they were still kids. Yes, they had the sort of training they needed to do these things but in the end they were still kids, they still had their weaknesses, and they were still guided more by emotion at times than anything else.
I could have done without all the stuff with Nori-Blue towards the end because it seemed a little out of place compared to the first part of the book. It was a bit Avatar-esque to me. I hate Avatar. At the same time, though, as a science fiction thriller it works very well. And there are plenty of other moments in this book that just sort of blow you away because they are so fairly shocking. At no point was i ever board. I really appreciated a lot of the choices the author made in telling the story for the most part and I think that anyone who read it will really enjoy it. He also is a very vivid writer, providing really great descriptions of things at times. He was very good at describing the Tremists and their uniforms as well as the ships and everything. There are a few pictures in the book but, honestly, I didn’t see the need for them. Krokos did a really good job leaving it to our imagination to fill in his gaps.
This is one of very few books any more that I’m glad to hear there will be a sequel to because I like Mason Stark. I would like to see him continue to grow and develop as a character.
If you can get past the title and cover to give this book a chance you won’t be disappointed. There are a lot of little mysteries, a lot of ‘WTF’ moments, and plenty of great dynamics that make this a very interesting story. It’s a middle grade book through and through but that doesn’t distract from anything. You’ll enjoy it!