Review of ‘Alien Worlds’ by Roxanne Smolen (January 2015):
Alien Worlds is the first book in Roxanne Smolen’s Colonial Scouts Adventure series. The highly selective and rigorously trained Colonial Scouts verify the value and safety of unsettled planets. Scout cadets hone their craft with live exploration of ‘safe’ worlds. On her last mission before graduation, Impani, a brilliant hard-working cadet who’s risen from the tough city streets is cursed with the worst possible partner. Trace Hanson, a convicted criminal, who used his family’s wealth and political connections to get into the academy. Just when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse the Impellic Rings (Smolen’s creative twist to wormhole travel without spaceships) malfunction. Instead of returning the cadets home, each gut-wrenching tug of the rings sends them to a new random planet. The two must work together to survive their tumultuous tour of the universe.
Alien Worlds is a science fiction adventure story that’s about more than cool technology or exotic aliens. To be sure it contains superb examples of both. Smolen creates fantastic worlds populated by bizarre yet believable aliens and she invents marvelous technical gizmos. However, she’s an author who understands a great story is not about technology, science, or the description of the scenery. It’s about creating compelling characters, and that is the strength of Alien Worlds. Impani and Trace are teens and at its heart this is their story about overcoming their fears, preconceptions, and doubts to return home. We can each find a little of ourselves in the stranded cadets. That connection is what makes us truly care about their fate.
Alien Worlds features many action sequences, numerous conflicts, mild romance and some teenage romantic angst. Smolen handles all of these elements in an age appropriate manner. Using the movie ratings system Alien Worlds scores a PG or perhaps even G rating. So while it’s targeted at the YA market it is also appropriate for strong MG readers and crossover adults who are interested in a fun-filled adventure. I highly recommend Alien Worlds to any such readers.
**In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free copy of this book **
Amazon link for Alien Worlds Colonial Scouts Adventures Book 1