(2) 4-6 Icarus Chronicles series. In this sci-fi series opener, shortly after humans discover the substance ventasium on Earth, the extraterrestrial Aykari arrive, offering friendship and technology in exchange for the element that powers their faster-than-light-speed ships. Soon after that, unfortunately, the aliens' foes, the Djarik, bomb every major city on Earth, rousing humans to resist, and cementing the Earth-Aykari military alliance. Thirteen-year-old Leo Fender and his remaining family are passengers on the spaceship Beagle when a Djarik attack disables the ship and the aliens abduct Leo's astrophysicist dad. With their communications system down, the ship's crew and passengers are sitting ducks for the pirates that show up to scavenge the vessel; in a desperate bid for survival, Leo's older brother stows him away on the pirate ship. Set largely in space, the story is suffused with nostalgia for Earth's natural beauty (a beauty severely compromised by the environmentally costly Aykari ventasium mining), and this longing sets up an effective reveal at the climax--a 180-degree plot twist that would have caught readers flatfooted if not for the skillful way ­Anderson manages expectations building to that moment. One final fillip sets up an even more wrenchng conflict, leaving readers eager for a sequel.


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