Moonstroke II: Alien Territory
by Blaine C. Readler
Full Arc Press

"The whine of the manual override motor ceased, and the outer door slammed shut, leaving just sirens and terrified shouts of dozens of nexgens, which quickly died."

Time has passed since the events of Readler’s previous young adult sci-fi adventure Moonstroke, finding teenaged protagonist Katlin—previously contained to a base on the moon with dozens of fellow teenagers (“nextgens,” in the novel’s parlance)—now safely back home on Earth attending to collegiate studies. Her rose-tinted childhood memories of her home planet have proven to be at odds with reality; Earth is not the idealized paradise Katlin dreamed of while toiling away in space, offering its own balance of frustrations and limitations. Before long, trouble comes calling again, and she and her new Earth friend must do everything they can to stop it. Meanwhile, her compatriots back on the moon face dangers of their own.

A seamless continuation of its predecessor’s narrative and expansion on many of its core themes, the sequel retains the original’s nimble and fast-paced depiction of teenage life, love, angst, and adventure while providing a fresh new set of challenges for the nextgens to overcome. A timely and intriguing layer of additional geopolitical intrigue deepens the novel’s connection to our own world, suggesting that mankind’s fundamental motivations remain unchanged once unmoored from the Earth’s soil.

Young adults who engaged with Readler’s previous novel will find much to enjoy here. The author’s natural ability to create authentic characters and believable dramatic tension makes it a compelling and relatable read sure to connect with its intended audience. Also, those new to the novel's universe will find it easy to dive in without playing catch-up. The author happily steers clear of the lingo and arcana which too-often plague modern episodic fantasy and sci-fi franchises. An ambitious and entertaining page-turner, Readler’s book journeys into the vastness beyond our atmosphere but remains steadfastly down-to-Earth in its pointed depiction of universal human emotions.

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