I received this book for free from Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Blastaway by Melissa Landers
Published by Disney Hyperion on July 9th, 2019
Genres: Adventure, Middle Grade, Sci-Fi
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Kyler Centaurus isn't your typical runaway. All he wanted was a quick trip to the legendary Fasti Sun Festival. Who wouldn't want to see new stars being born? Um, try Kyler's entire family. They couldn't care less about mind-blowing wonders of science.
When an accidental launch sequence ends with Kyler hurtling through space on the family cruiser, the thrill of freedom is cut short by two space pirates determined to steal his ship. Not happening!
Luckily, Kyler bumps into Fig, a savvy young Wanderer who makes a living by blowing up asteroids. She could really use a ride to Earth and Kyler could really use a hand with the pirates.
But when Kyler learns the truth about Fig's mission, the two must put aside their differences long enough to stop the threat of astronomical proportions racing towards Earth?
While I never got the chance to read Alienated, I have read Lander’s romance novels so when I heard about Blastaway, I was immediately onboard. I expected something akin to Alienated (even though I hadn’t read it) and in my excitement, missed that Blastaway wasn’t YA. It is middle grade. I read middle grade so that didn’t really turn me off but this book wouldn’t really hit the mark for adult middle grade readers the way it would for middle grade middle grade readers – aka the intended demographic of the book.
Blastaway is incredibly cute and I love that it uses its sci-fic setting to draw attention to very real world issues in an accessible manner to younger readers. My biggest issue – keeping in mind that I was not the intended audience – was that a lot of the science was lax? There were many things that weren’t really thought out evolution-wise when it came to wanderers. This wouldn’t even have been a particularly difficult problem to fix, the book could have been set way way way into the future rather than just 500 years.
It also heavily relied on pop culture references from this century even though the book is set 500 years in the future. This is definitely me being nit-picky because I realize that having those references makes this futuristic world more accessible to younger readers but for me, it took away from the sci-fic experience. I wish that instead of trying to tone down this world, Landers explored it a bit more and tried to ground readers in it in other ways.
The plot is also riddled with lucky coincidences that propels it forward without having to work around the struggles of being two runaway children on a ship on their own, trying to stop an evil plan to take over the universe and potentially harm both humans and wanderers.
So, Blastaway is not a particularly dense book but I do love that it also explores familial relationships as well as friendships. Kyler struggles a lot with finding a place within his family. He constantly feels like an outcast and pre-teen hormones probably don’t make navigating those relationships easy. It’s definitely clear to the reader that his family loves him just the way he is but I loved watching him come to terms with that. I also loved his and Fig’s blooming friendship. They are both very stubborn people and I loved that even though they were quick to become friends, they also had their ups and downs.
Overall, I feel like this book would be more appropriate for elementary school readers rather than middle school ones because this book feels younger than the ages of its characters. The kids who love adventures sans adults, love the running away from home stories (as I did at those ages) will gobble this book up.
2.5 Hot Espressos