To join in, all you need to do is:
- Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
- Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence.
- Write three words to describe the book.
- Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.
Crater Lake Evolution by Jennifer Killick, cover art by Anne Glenn, published by Firefly Press
If you’ve not yet read the first Crater Lake, don’t read this one (yet!) but start there. Normally I’d say ‘you probably could read it as a stand alone/out of order’ and I mean, yes, you probably could but so much of this builds on, follows on from and refers back to book one that it wouldn’t be the best idea.
However, as soon as you have read book one – READ THIS!
We rejoin unlikely hero Lance and friends in the first term of secondary school, and its safe to say ‘Big School’ has thrown them in a big way. They’ve changed, grown apart, fallen out and generally struggled with the transition.
But they’re going to have to put misunderstandings, jealousy and dodgy earrings aside because…
…the spores are back in town.
With WiFi down after a strange explosion in the local lab, a mysterious creature on the loose and a curfew in place, more nosy neighbours than you can shake a stick at, and parents either missing or acting very strangely, it’s not long before Lance realises something weird is going on, and it’s up to him to get to the bottom of it again. But to do that, he’ll need help.
Can he get the gang back together to save Straybridge?
And on that note, said gang are brilliant. They’re a great mix of very relatable and recognisable 11-12 year olds who act and sound so realistic (Ade’s “hair dollop” in a doughnut cracked me up!).
This is an author who knows the age she writes (and writes for) well (although, I have to say its Lance’s mum that really stood out for me in this!)
There is a really observant, tender and reassuring look at friendship groups and the way they can change in the background of this alien invasion.
Likewise, the humour is one of the best things about the book. Lightening the mood when it all gets a bit heavy, the balance between the potentially deadly events unfolding and the comic gold that is the dialogue here is perfect (with a special nod to newcomer Karim who delivers so much of it).
Between sarky retorts, deliberations about poo, quick comebacks and schmaltzy cushions, there is a remarkable amount of laughter for a book about a town being gradually taken over by an alien lifeform.
There is a lot I loved about this book that I can’t talk about for fear of spoilers (though I will say the Stranger Things chat and bugsplaining were brilliant) but the whole thing is just superbly executed. And it refers back to book one in the absolute best ways while being an entirely different beast too.
The creepy atmosphere steadily grows, the tension builds brilliantly and you can really sense the imminent danger mounting. This is as relentless as the first, with just as many twists, turns and surprises; fast-paced, exciting and utterly gripping.
And if you’re thinking ‘yeah, but aliens aren’t really for me’ – don’t be put off! I really don’t do sci-fi but here I make an exception – it is great!
My favourite quote from page 10:
“I stare at the smoke churning and bubbling in the sky above my town: a town where literally nothing interesting ever happens, and I feel a creeping dread prickling in my chest.”
This book in three words:
Aliens. Friendship. Laughs.
Have you read the first Crater Lake?
Will you be picking this one up?