Review: Six

Six by M. M. Vaughan (Margaret K. McElderry, Expected Publication, May 2015)

Twelve-year-old Parker and Ten-year-old Emma haven’t had an easy deal of things so far.  They’ve lost their mom.  They’ve moved to a new country, a new home and a new school. Adjusting to the changes is hard, especially when their father’s time is eaten up by his new job.  And then, their father is kidnapped.  Thanks to the special computer link between Parker, his sister and their father, Parker knows his father was taken against his will–and knows he has to run.  But dangerous enemies are closing in on the kids, and they have no idea who has their dad or where they’ve taken him.  Parker is going to have to uncover the project his father has been working on, and find the people who can tell him what’s going on.  What they discover will have them embarking on an out-of-this-world adventure!

It’s always fun to discover someone working a different angle in the SF world of middle grade, and this one nicely fits the bill.  While the classic parent is missing/kidnapped, kids on the run adventure plot  is familiar, the specific details of the story make it something I happily settled down with.  The most exciting bit for me in this?  There’s “telepathy” and “teleportation”–two words that are usually associated with psychic powers and given a rather mystical bent.  M. M. Vaughan doesn’t go that route.  Emma, Parker and their father share a “telepathic” link, but it’s created by the use of technology.  Mr. Parker invents a device that allows the family to communicate through thought with Emma, who is deaf.  It’s a clever idea, and the existence of this tech allows the siblings a super secret form of communication that essentially gives them mind to mind abilities without either one possessing special psychic gifts.  Likewise, teleporting is treated as a purely technological development, one fraught with problems.  As a science fiction reader who gets weary of the typical technologies, this is a refreshing change.

You have some nice infusions in this adventure plot beyond the telepathy angle.  As I mentioned, Emma is deaf–for the most part this is merely treated as an aspect of the story rather than an issue in and of itself.  Emma’s a strong-willed younger sister with fierce opinions regarding all sorts of things.  She’ll even try to protect her older brother from bullies.  Parker is a tougher nut to crack: he’s struggling to adjust in school and has a simmering temper.  His friendship to the equally bullied Michael gives him room to be more of a kid and less stressed about everything.  Michael’s unexpected friendship allows Emma and Parker to escape the corporate goons who try to abduct them,  with the help of his easy-going chauffeur.  With their shared knowledge of computers, the boys must track down the meaning of the clues Parker’s father left behind, and piece together what really is going on–and what the villain’s plot really is all about.

Despite a tense and thrilling prologue, the story takes some time to really hit its stride but once the action is underway, the rest of the plotting moves at a fair clip.  And while the nefarious villains are fairly run of the mill evil and corrupt, their plans are something a bit out of the ordinary which makes uncovering the actual plot worthwhile.  I really enjoyed reading through this one.  Cohesive story, likable characters, and some fresh ideas.  Perhaps my biggest complaint is that this book ends at a point that isn’t quite a cliffhanger, but it’s not a true wrap up of a plot either.  Our characters are safe for the time being, maybe even happy–but threats loom around them, the villains have not been held accountable and deadlines still loom.  Not to mention that several characters remain loose threads to be wrapped up in the future.  Given that this appears to be a series, I can anticipate these things will be dealt with in the books to come!

Note: An advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher.

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Publication Date: Expected September 2014

ISBN13:    9781481420693

Recommended for grades 4 and up.

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on March 21, 2015, in General Posts, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hi, I wouldn’t normally write something in response to a review of my own book but someone just sent me a link to this and I had to say thank you! Not only do I love the review (obviously!), but I specifically loved reading your thoughts on the SF elements in the story. I was very conscious when writing this that science fiction is a difficult one to tackle when fans of the genre are generally so well-informed – so your review means a lot. Thank you!
    Monica

    • Thank you in turn! I’m excited to see what else will happen with your characters in the future. Action adventure SF for middle grade that’s not space opera or aliens is fairly limited. We need more of it!

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