The Dark Zone
Tor, Apr 26 2011, $16.99
When the tail of the comet Bhaktul passed through the Earth’s atmosphere, it left behind toxic particles that caused a fatal disease for anyone over eighteen years old. To prevent human extinction as those turning eighteen caught the disease also, a bold plan to send 251 chosen teenagers led by Triana to fly a spacecraft the Galahad to the distant Eos solar system began (see The Comet’s Curse).
They deal with a stowaway, meet the Cassini aliens on a Jupiter moon (see The Web of Titan) and navigate though the hazardous Kuiper Belt (see The Cassini Code). Although the crew expects smooth sailing once they clear the Belt, they are met by strange vulture-shaped organisms. Unsure whether the entities are sentient and friendly, biological or mechanical the Council agrees to move ahead with the mission. Still they capture one of the essences leading to a series of mistakes as a crew member dies on board and another human makes a unilateral decision that impacts survivability on the Galahad.
Dom Testa continues his powerful teen suspense science fiction space opera as a potential new danger greets the earth travelers. The teens have become increasingly cohesive though they come from a variety of cultures and nations as they deal with perilous adventures. They prove dedicated and responsible and need the success of their mission. The story line contains numerous subplots involving the personal needs of the crew, but also moves forward the overarching major theme of travel through unknown space in a terrific odyssey.