Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Nightwing: The New Order #5 by Kyle Higgins - Book Review

From the publisher: After a stunning revelation about the nature of Jake’s powers, the former Titans head to Metropolis to join forces with the one person who they believe they can restore the world’s superpowers—the depowered Superman! Caught between his old friends and the new order he created, Dick Grayson refuses to let his son become a weapon for either side…but is it even his choice anymore? How far will Dick go to protect his son?

Nightwing: The New Order #5 is the penultimate issue in Kyle Higgins's mini-series. At this point, Higgins has (seemingly) put everything on the table. Nightwing attempts to rescue his son, Jake, with the help of the former Teen Titans and Lois Lane. When the time comes to get Jake to Metropolis so a cure to help the depowered can be created, Dick balks. He is caught between what can and might happen to his son in the world he brought about, and he still firm belief that he made the right choice to eliminate people's powers. Plus, Superman at last!

Higgins is doing a great job with this alternate reality story. It deals with some very timely issues about the power of government and the rights of individuals. It also puts Dick Grayson/Nightwing, often the moral compass of the DC Universe, in a bind. Watching him deal with the internal conflict of helping his son or helping society (according to him) is very interesting. Higgins is doing a fine job of portraying Nightwing as a man who is villainized without being a villain. His relationship with his estranged wife Kory/Starfire and his son, Jake, is also getting deeper and more complicated. This is a high point of the story for me, and I'm looking forward to reading how Higgins wraps it up.

One of the things I've enjoyed about The New Order is seeing familiar heroes and villains, and discovering where they fall on the issue of powered individuals. It's made for some clever team-ups. We're also finally told why Dick made the decision to use the device to depower everyone in the first place. It is both simple and heartbreaking; no one can fault him for the reasoning behind his choice. In addition, what Superman has been up to, and who he's working with is another cool piece to the story.

With Nightwing: The New Order #5, Kyle Higgins brings his series to a peak. All that's left is to see if he can stick the landing, and how that will happen. I highly recommend this series to Batman/Nightwing fans, as well as those looking to read something a little different from the traditional line of superhero comics. Higgins's The New Order series is definitely worth reading.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Doomsday Clock #2 by Geoff Johns - Book Review

From the publisher: DC and Watchmen characters collide at last! The story that began in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH #1 comes to a thrilling and unexpected crescendo in the pages of this titanic twelve-issue series by the all-star team that brought you BATMAN: EARTH ONE and SHAZAM!

In this second chapter: The Dark Knight discovers another relic from the Watchmen world. Lex Luthor pays a devil’s bargain. And killer clowns trek through Gotham seeking a madman.

Doomsday Clock #2, by Geoff Johns, continues the story of Adrian Veidt's search for Dr. Manhattan. With the assistance of the new Rorschach, Marionette, and Mime, Veidt takes a retooled Owl Ship to try and trace Dr. Manhattan's whereabouts before their world is turned into a nuclear war. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is trying to fend off a hostile takeover of Wayne Enterprises by Luthor Corp., run by Lex Luthor. Worlds are crossed (as well as dimensions) to bring our characters into contact with each other. And Veidt's plan to trust Mime and Marionette looks like it could go very wrong.

I liked this issue of Doomsday Clock. Johns does another fine job of letting the story unfold at it's own pace, dropping little nuggets of information here and there. I found myself looking for clues or trying to connect dots that may or may not exist, in the hopes of getting some idea of where the story is headed. However, at this point all I know is that the Watchmen characters will be interacting with mainstream DC heroes and villains, and I have no idea just what role Dr. Manhattan will be playing. Some of the clues left in previous issues of DC Comics point readers to certain characters (or a character) being responsible for all that's been going on in the DC Universe (i.e.: The New 52, Rebirth, etc.). However, with Doomsday Clock #2, Johns lays the groundwork for something involving Dr. Manhattan that I wasn't really expecting. I'm also not really sure who the "bad guy" is, if there even is one.

I have a feeling that the individual issues of Doomsday Clock are going to be hard to review without spoilers, and hard to evaluate because they are just pieces of a story that will need to be seen as a whole to be really understood. And I'm okay with that. I'm enjoying the story Johns is telling, and I like reading the twists and turns. Really, I'm looking forward to finding out just who is responsible for everything, and how and why it was done. I'm also curious as to just how much of current DC events spin out of Doomsday Clock; for instance, is Dark Nights: Metal a result of whomever's meddling in DC history? I guess it remains to be seen.

Overall, Doomsday Clock #2 by Geoff Johns is another solid entry in this possibly "world-changing" mini-series. I recommend it to anyone interested in the DC Comics universe. I also recommend it because of Geoff Johns's writing, and his efforts to echo the style of the Watchmen series.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV - Book Review

From the publisher: The Dark Knight teams with his fellow Gotham City vigilantes to protect their hometown in the newest volume of this hit graphic novel series in BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 4: Deus Ex Machina!

The next big DETECTIVE arc is here! Stephanie Brown wants nothing more than to save Gotham City from the epidemic of costumed vigilantes and madmen who regularly tear the city apart. But before she can try to stop them, she must face the challenge of one in particular: the insane the Wrath is back, and Stephanie knows what he has planned--but she refuses to let Batman risk more lives to stop him. That means it's all on her...and a very unlikely ally! 

From writer James Tynion IV (BATMAN/TMNT) and the spectacular art team of Eddy Barrows (NIGHTWING) and Alvaro Martinez (BATMAN ETERNAL) comes the fourth volume of the return of DETECTIVE COMICS! Collects DETECTIVE COMICS #957-961.

Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina, by James Tynion IV, continues the excellent storytelling  going on in the Batman comics. This latest volume from Tynion IV focuses a little more on the heroes making up Batwoman's team, in particular Jean-Paul Valley aka Azrael. When the new version of Azrael, known as Ascalon, comes to "convert" or "evangelize" Jean-Paul, Luke Fox (Batwing) jumps in to help save his friend. With some help from Batwoman, Orphan, Clayface, and Batman, Azrael confronts his past and paves the way for his future.

This was another terrific story. I really enjoyed Tynion IV's focus on Jean-Paul, as he is a very interesting character but not a lot has been revealed about his background. We knew he was created by the Order of St. Dumas as an avenging angel and has a strange symbiotic relationship with his costume, knows as the Suit of Sorrows, but not much more than that. Deus Ex Machina takes a deeper look into his life and sets the stage for future mysteries. I particularly enjoyed the further development of the friendship between Jean-Paul and Luke, which was strengthened as a result of this encounter. It was also nice to have Batman play a supporting, secondary role, as it let the other heroes shine more. One other thing I liked was the new Azrael suit Luke created; it had the look of Jean-Paul's Batman suit (from way back in Batman's past, when his back was broken and Jean-Paul stepped in for him). It was a nice nod to longtime fans.

The last chapter in this book focused on Stephanie Brown (Spoiler). She left the team because of the collateral damage to innocent people and is currently fighting the good fight and trying to remain off the radar. This story sets up the next major arc in Detective Comics, which should provide another interesting challenge for the Bat-team.

One note, though: The back cover copy provided by the publisher is not accurate as to the story inside. It both identifies the name of the volume incorrectly and leaves out the major story involving Azrael.

I highly recommend Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina, by James Tynion IV. It should be read by all Batman fans, and would also be enjoyed by fans of Azrael from previous Batman stories (going back to the 1990's).

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Few Games Before the Holiday(s) Break

To start with, Lexi's season FINALLY got underway. It seems like she's been going to practices and workouts for forever, but her team had a game and a game-like scrimmage this week. First, Lexi will be playing with the 8th grade team and the 7th grade team (they only have 4 girls, so several 8th graders will be doing this). Lexi played a bit in the first 7th grade game, then got to start in the 8th grade game. This was pretty cool, and I attribute it to all the voluntary workouts she attended, along with the early season practices. However, she was nervous and looked a little uneasy on the court. For the scrimmage, she started the 7th grade game and came off the bench in the 8th grade game. While she was nervous to start again, after being subbed out, she calmed down. When she was reinserted into the game, she looked like a different player. She was more aggressive, more confident with the ball, and had more court awareness. She was in position to get a backside rebound and put it right back up, getting fouled in the process. She made one of the free throws. However, it was in the 8th grade game that she excelled. Coming off the bench gave Lexi a chance to see how things were going, and when she came in, she picked right up with how aggressive she had been playing in the 7th grade game. In the 3rd quarter, she hit a jump shot from about 8 feet away, then got a rebound (but missed her layup). My favorite play was when she harassed a girl on the press, stole the ball, and took it to the hoop for a textbook layup. It may be the best pure basketball play she has ever made. She also had a chance to hit a layup right at the end game buzzer, but was fouled shooting (the ref didn't call it because Lexi's team was up by 20 or so). I was super impressed with how she grew just during these two scrimmages.

Griffin's team won their first game in the school league, and they won by a bunch. Griffin did a nice job on both ends of the court. He hustled as usual on defense, causing some havoc. He got a few rebounds and forced some jump balls. He also got off a couple of shots, but neither fell for him. He is now off for a couple of weeks for the holidays.

Cami had her first practices for the school league. She is finding this a little more competitive and demanding than she is used to, but is having fun. She has her first games after Christmas break.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dark Nights: Metal #4 by Scott Snyder - Book Review

From the publisher: The Justice League has been broken and scattered to the far corners of the DCU, each member forced to face their worst fears alone…and the fears are winning. When an unlikely ally reveals a glimmer of hope, they must seize their chance, or risk their window of opportunity closing for good!

Scott Snyder continues the story of the hunt for Nth Metal in Dark Nights: Metal #4. In this particular issue, our heroes are split in several groups, all looking for the final pieces of Nth Metal. They need the pieces in order to stop Barbatos from leaving the Dark Multiverse and destroying everything. Snyder deftly juggles the various groups of heroes, doling out clues, opening further mysteries, and pushing the story towards it’s climax.

Of particular note to me in this issue is the focus on Bruce Wayne aka Batman, who has been in the Dark Multiverse for 30 years, and Clark Kent aka Superman, who has been powering the battery the Clark Kent doppelgangers are using to draw the Earth closer to the Dark Multiverse. There are some nice character moments in their interaction. Additionally, Dream begins to take on a bigger role, making him more a part of the main DC Universe.

One of the highlights of Snyder’s Metal series has been how he is tying various corners of the DC Universe together into one cohesive whole. In some instances, Snyder just has easter eggs for characters or events, but in others (I’m looking at you, Hawkman and Hawkgirl), they are involved in major plot points. As a longtime fan, I appreciate these nods and attempts to bring everything together.

I recommend Dark Night: Metal #4 by Scott Snyder. It’s a good read, and provides another chapter in the overall Metal story, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to unfold over the next several issues.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

The Wild Storm #10 by Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: The WildCAT and Jackie King at IO are planning elaborate heists. One heist could save the world. One could end it. And there’s no guarantee that either the CAT or Jackie and her team will get out of their respective capers alive. And IO director Miles Craven is distracted by many troubles and questions, including: What was Project Thunderbook? 

The Wild Storm #10 is another piece in the interesting story the Warren Ellis is telling. Once again, we are given bits and pieces of the bigger picture. In this current issue, Cole Cash and his WildCAT team are trying to figure out how to gain access to IO headquarters using their various talents and abilities. The folks at IO, including Jackie King, are trying to figure out how to infiltrate Skywatch. In addition, more characters from the history of Stormwatch/The Authority make an appearance, including one of my favorites, Jack Hawksmoor.

I really want to be able to review this as an individual issue, but Ellis’s writing and story prohibit that. He just keeps adding bits and pieces to a greater whole, which makes it hard to evaluate each individual chapter. However, this is not a criticism, more an observation that it appears The Wild Storm might be one of those books best read as a whole. Unfortunately, I’m not patient enough to wait for the collected series, so I’m left trying to assemble each part in my mind as I read. And thanks to Ellis, I’m having a blast, because he is fantastic at telling big, weird, stories with huge stakes while still providing enough characterization for each hero and villain to put meat on the bones of his story, providing a lot of depth.

I’m also really enjoying seeing how Ellis is able to bring multiple characters from Wild Storm’s past into the present book. Each new addition is a nice wink to longtime readers, but the roles the characters play are not any any way just fan service. I can hardly wait to see the finished project and where the Wild Storm universe stands at the end of Ellis’s story.

Once again, I highly recommend The Wild Storm, in particular issue #10. Warren Ellis is in the middle of a fun and entertaining story. I would recommend this book to any fans of Ellis or the old Wild Storm line of comics. I would caution new readers about the complexity of the current story line. This issue may not be the best place to jump in.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth) by Tom King - Book Review

From the publisher: In the tradition of BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, the next great Batman graphic novel is here in BATMAN VOL. 4: THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES!

Zero Year. 12 months in which Gotham City was left without power, without laws, without hope. 365 days in which the Riddler ruled the streets. But once again, Batman was victorious. 

In the aftermath of Zero Year? War. The Joker vs. The Riddler. They called it the War of Jokes and Riddles and it's story has been untold... until now. 

Written by breakout star Tom King and illustrated by Mikel Janin, the newest installment of this best-selling, critically acclaimed graphic novel series see a flashback tale of the Dark Knight facing two of his greatest foes ever! Collects BATMAN #25-32.

Tom King continues his excellent run on Batman with Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles. Following the events of Zero Year, the Joker "forgot" how to laugh, so he decided to kill and destroy even more than usual. The Riddler, in custody, was asked to help Batman and the GCPD in finding and stopping Joker. Riddler refused, then escaped and confronted Joker with a proposal: Team up and let the Riddler kill Batman. Joker said no, and the two went to war. The resulting carnage was devastating. As for Batman, he is almost secondary as he is left to try and prevent more devastation and protect the innocent citizens of Gotham.

I really enjoyed The War of Jokes and Riddles. It was a spectacular story. King deftly handled the characterization of both Joker and Riddler, raising the level of genius and crazy to extreme heights. Both are equally menacing and unforgiving, refusing to give in or bow out so that the other might have the opportunity to kill Batman. King also does a great job juggling the various supporting villains the two gather to assist them in their war. Of particular note is Kite-Man, a seemingly "C" list villain, almost a joke himself. Kite-man gets several chapters of the story to show his role in the war, and King adds a level of pathos to a formerly ridiculous villain. It is in moments like these that King's talent shines through.

With his new relationship with Catwoman, Batman decides he needs to reveal his true self to her, and that is how the story of the War of Jokes and Riddles is presented. Batman promises to tell her something that may cause her to reevaluate their relationship and the way she sees him. This provides an interesting and suspenseful framework to an already enthralling story.

Over the past 30+ issues, King has proven to be a great writer who excels in characterization. He is adding layers and depths to characters who have been around for decades (Batman, Bane, Riddler, Kite-Man). This raises his writing above the average. He has also created some intriguing plots, especially I Am Bane, but the War of Jokes and Riddles has the chance to become one of the legendary Batman arcs.

I highly highly recommend Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles by Tom King. With each successive volume, King continues to raise the bar, putting himself in the discussion for all-time greatest Batman writer. This is a must for Batman fans, and because it's self-contained, it makes for a great story for anyone wanting to give it a try.

*My review copy did not include the final volume of the story, so as of this writing I'm unaware of the secret Batman promised to reveal to Catwoman.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Championship + More Basketball

Cami finished her rec league season with two wins, including the championship game. In the first game, she went scoreless but contributed with good ball-handling, rebounds, and defense (she caused several jump balls). She saved her best for the championship game, though. She scored 6 points, including making 4 free throws with less than two minutes left to help ice the game away. She also had multiple steals, rebounds, and tough defense. This was her second year in a row winning the rec league championship. Her school team season starts with practice next week.

Griffin had two school games this week; the boys lost both, one on a shot with 2 seconds left. They played a 6th grade "B" team and a mixed 5th/6th team, so in spite of the age difference, they competed well. Griffin had a couple of shots (they didn't fall), but excelled with passing and defense. He gets after it on defense and is fun to watch on the press. He also had an awesome box-out rebound on a kid probably a foot taller than him. Both of his coaches were very complimentary (said at times he was the best 6th man). He had two travel games, as well, and they won both. He played a bunch, causing havoc on defense and playing solid on "O". He scored once, had a free throw attempt, multiple rebounds and forced jump balls, and a steal or two. In fact, he stole the ball on the press, then drove, stepped back when he came to a defender, and sank an 8 footer. It was a pretty cool series of events. He has a school game this week, and then a couple of weeks off for Christmas break.

Lexi (along with the other middle school cheerleaders) hosted a youth cheer clinic, and all the girls performed at half time of the varsity boys game. She also (finally) gets the game portion of the basketball season underway with two games this coming week. She is pretty excited about that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WILDSTORM: MICHAEL CRAY #3 by Bryan Hill and Warren Ellis - Book Review

From the publisher: Crime forensics expert Barry Allen has a dark secret—and a prototype suit that makes him the fastest man alive. Michael Cray wants to make him pay for his sins, but is he able to catch a man faster than justice? And what will happen when Barry Allen turns his psychosis on Cray at hyper-speed?

Once again, Bryan Hill has written an engaging story with Michael Cray #3. He is slowly doling out bits and pieces of Cray's life, tied in with his missions for IO. And once again, Hill has taken a familiar face from the DCU and created a warped version of the character for The Wild Storm universe. Last time it was Oliver Queen, better known as the Green Arrow; this time its Barry Allen, aka The Flash. Oh, and what a warped and twisted version of Barry it is.

Hill continues to take Cray on a dark tour of a twisted DC universe. While he is still trying to figure out just what/how he has alien DNA (or something) in him, Cray is taking on and taking out a number of "bad" guys. The Wild Storm Barry Allen is similar enough to the mainstream version, but this guy has a bit of the Unabomber about him. After writing a manifesto about the dangers of developing AI, Barry now using his genius, a supersuit, a cocktail of drugs, and his position as a CSI to murder scientists working on AI's. Cray is tasked by IO to assassinate Allen. It all just kind of goes from there.

I like this series. Hill is writing an interesting character, one who is hard to root for at times, but seems to have a moral code of his own. As each issue passes, Hill is peeling away more layers to give us more insight into who Michael Cray is and why he does what he does. I'm curious how long this process will take until Hill catches up with the time frame in which Warren Ellis's The Wild Storm series is taking place (Cray also shows up there). The supporting characters in this series are okay, but I'm not terribly interested in them, at least right now. It's Cray who's the star and takes the focus.

Michael Cray #3 by Bryan Hill (with Warren Ellis) is another fine story. Hill continues to write an action-packed series with a multi-dimensional character. This is an okay starting point if you missed the first two issues. I would recommend Michael Cray to fans of The Wild Storm or anyone looking for a different take on familiar DC heroes.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Games, Games, Games

Griffin had his first official "school" game this week. They lost (they played a 6th grade B team), but Griffin did a nice job. He hustled on defense, made some good passes, took a shot, and made the most of his playing time. He has another school game this week. In the travel league, the team won both games. He didn't play a bunch, but did make an impact. His defense was good in the first game, but excellent in the second; he played at the top of the press and forced a 10 second violation. He made a nice drive in the first game and was fouled; he made one free throw but landed over the line so it didn't count. In the second game, he made a great drive from the left wing (off a nice pass) and made a layup. Two more travel games next week.

Cami's rec team lost a close one. She didn't score, but did draw a foul and two free throws on a nice fast break (the first shot rolled off). She had 4 or 5 rebounds, several steals, at least one deflection, and a deflected shot on a girl much taller than her, all while having a sprained thumb. Next week is her tournament and the end of rec season, with the school team starting soon after. Cami is also getting ready to start club volleyball in a few weeks, after participating in an evaluation last week.

Lexi continues to juggle basketball and cheer. She had one cheer game this past week (two this upcoming week), and multiple basketball practices. She was also chosen (along with a few other girls) to participate in a controlled practice/scrimmage with another school. She did a nice job. Her first games are in a little more than a week, and we're all looking forward to seeing how she does.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #3 by Sean Murphy - Book Review

From the publisher: Tragedy strikes, and the Bat-family face the fight of their lives against an army of super-villains and waning public support. A new discovery reinforces Jack’s plot to jeopardize the Dark Knight’s standing in Gotham City, and Harley’s obsession with The Joker reaches a new height—and threatens to change the game for good!

Sean Murphy continues to spin an unusual Batman story with Batman: White Knight #3. In the latest installment of the mini-series, Jack Napier's plan gets a little clearer, Batman gets a little closer to the edge, yet more familiar faces show up, and tragedy strikes.

I struggle to review White Knight for fear of spoiling anything, but I'll give it a try. Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl attempt to stop a large group of supervillains, who are working together. In the course of the conflict, Backport (a lower income neighborhood) again feels the effects of Batman's vigilantism. This plays right into Napier's hands. Napier is again accompanied by Harleen Quinzel. Meanwhile, there is a conflict brewing between Batman and the pair of Nightwing and Batgirl. Duke Thomas makes an appearance, and so does Joker's Daughter (I think).

I'm enjoying Murphy's take on the Batman mythos. He pulls in enough familiar characters and situations to ground it in what's come before, but has tweaked things just enough to make the world of White Knight unique (Dick Grayson's relationship with Bruce Wayne?). As the series nears the halfway point, Murphy has me fully engaged and looking forward to seeing how he plays this story out.

I highly recommend Batman: White Knight #3 by Sean Murphy. It's a fun, creative take on Batman that is sure to please fans both new and old. Grab a copy (and the first two issues, as well) and get caught up.

I received a preview copy of this book from DC Comics in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

It Resumes

Cami's rec team won their game this week. She had 6 points, several rebounds, some good passes, and at least one steal. It took a little for her to get going, but once she did, she turned up the intensity. She has another game next Saturday.

Griffin's team played a couple of travel games. They lost both, but one was by one point, with several chances to win right at the end. Griffin had a decent day. He played some good defense, forcing a couple of turnovers. He also had at least one rebound. My favorite play, though, was his basket. He caught the ball on the left wing, made a strong dribble move and drive to the basket, then shot the ball off the glass for a perfectly executed layup. He has his first school league game Monday, and two more travel games next Sunday.

Lexi had two cheer games, and continues basketball practice. She is encouraged by how practice is going for her. The first game is in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Nyxia By SCOTT REINTGEN - Book Review

From the publisher: Every life has a price in this sci-fi thriller—the first in a trilogy—that has the nonstop action of The Maze Runner and the high-stakes space setting of Illuminae. 

What would you be willing to risk for a lifetime of fortune?

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.


Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

Scott Reintgen's Nyxia is a fun and entertaining book. It engages the reader from the first page and flies them through to the end, with barely time to breathe in-between. This is definitely a book I'll try to put in the hands of my middle school students.

First, a brief summary. Emmett is our point of view character. He is an African-American teen from Detroit. Along with 9 other teens from around the world, he has been chosen to compete for a spot to visit Eden, a new planet discovered by the Babel Corporation, and to basically be paid like millionaires. Babel needs the teens to mine for nxyia, a wondrous substance that can be manipulated by the mind into becoming whatever one can imagine. The Eden natives, known as Adamites, will not allow adults on the surface of the planet, resulting in the need for the teenagers, as well (this back story is necessary to explain why kids are going to Eden, but otherwise not really that important). Over the course of the journey to Eden, Emmett and the others will be pitted against each other, individually and as teams, to determine which 8 will actually be chosen. Friendships grow, rivalries form, and the very real prospect of injury or death hangs over the competitions, not to mention the chance to be financially set for life and pull their families out of poverty.

In his author's bio, Reintgen mentions that as a teacher, he discovered that "inspiration isn't equally accessible for everyone, so he set out to write a novel for the front -ow sleepers and back-row dreamers of his classrooms. He hopes his students will see characters like Emmett." As a fellow teacher, I think he has succeeded. Emmett is a fully realized character that should appeal to all students, but especially boys. He has self-doubt mixed with a high level of self-confidence; he experiences disappointments, anger, and successes just like any kid. He is guarded and open at the same time, trying to protect himself but be known, as well. His arc is well done, with plenty of room for more growth in the coming sequel(s). The other characters are a collection of different races and genders, and are written well. They don't have the depth that Emmett has, but that may be more a function of the first person narrative than anything else. There are a few adults in the story. Defoe is the Babel Corp. supervisor, who is sketchy and untrustworthy. Vandemeer is the caretaker/doctor for Emmett and his suitemate, Kaya. They are kind of stereotypes, but fill their roles well.

The plot flew along, constantly propelling the reader forward. As the competition progresses, Emmett becomes more suspicious that all is not what it seems with the Babel Corp. There are plenty of twists and turns, and several plot twists that I did not see coming. The substance of nyxia itself is very mysterious, with more of it's capabilities being revealed as Emmett and the others move through their journey. The book ends, not exactly on a cliffhanger, but definitely with a great transition point for the next book, which I'm planning on reading as soon as Reintgen publishes it.

The publisher compares Nxyia to The Maze Runner and Illuminae; I disagree. I didn't particularly find the mystery behind The Maze Runner as interesting as Nxyia, and the only thing Illuminae has in common with Nxyia is the space setting. While reading, I found myself thinking about Ender's Game, Hunger Games, and Divergent. Ender's Game has a similar tension between teens/kids training both as allies and competitors, and the space setting is a little closer in tone than Illuminae's. The writing style and level, and the character depths, reminded me of Divergent; it was written well, but to me it didn't reach the level of a Hunger Games or Harry Potter (this is not a dig, but where the bar is set for me). The tension in Hunger Games, along with the violence, was a notch above Nxyia, but there is a clear danger and risk involved in all of the games Emmett and his comrades compete in. Reintgen did a great job for his first published novel, and now it remains to see if he can raise the bar with Nxyia's sequel(s).

I really enjoyed Nxyia by Scott Reintgen. It was well-written, engaging, and full of interesting plot points and characters. This should appeal to middle- and high school readers, especially boys who were looking for a Hunger Games or Divergent type book with a male protagonist. I'm looking forward to Reintgen's future books in the Nxyia universe.

I received a review copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.