“A Glint of Exoskeleton” is a highly entertaining and extremely enjoyable read, with a wonderfully adventurous heroine. Throughout her life, Crick has been able to speak to insects. The story begins with a snapshot of events as she grows up: meeting Peri the cockroach at the age of 3, learning to hide her abilities, until she becomes a teenager and then the story truly begins.
Peri is a very important cockroach – he’s decades old and basically the main spokes-bug for all the cockroaches of his species in the world. And he has some terrible to report: the mosquitoes are turning against humankind. After decades of persecution, they’ve had enough and, with the aid of a mysterious and devious human associate, they are engineering a virus that will destroy the world. And who can stop them? Well, adults can’t – they’d never believe Crick if she told them – so it’s up to Crick to save the world. And to do that, she must find a way to get to Panama, the birthplace of “leopard spot fever” as it is known. A place where, already, villages have been depopulated by the virus.
The writing was very vivid, I’ve never been to Panama, but the prose was so descriptive, so evocative, I was transported to that land of rice fields and mud. I shared with Crick her sense of despair at being alone in such a foreign environment. But Crick is never really alone, because she has her insect friends to aid her and they do – in no small way!
There are a few darker moments (such as the fate of the evil conspirator), and a few that are creepy (Crick is stalked by her school friend, after she does the responsible thing and reports his self-destructive behaviour to his parents), which may make it a little disconcerting for the more sensitive readers, but these are well balanced with a healthy dose of humour, an action-packed romp of a plot, highly entertaining characters and a gutsy heroine. This book is almost guaranteed to make the reader look at insects in a different light (Weiss is an entomologist and her passion for her profession shines through), as well as educating them (so subtly that they’ll hardly realise it’s happening). A great read for adventurous girls, and boys too!
Purchase “Glint of Exoskeleton” on ebook.
Do not be deterred by the apparent plot similarities to Harry Potter – “The Natural Order” may be a magic school-type novel, but it is a wholly original take on the genre. The protagonist, Tristan, is serving time as a juvenile delinquent, accused of manslaughter. As he mourns the brother whose death he caused, a stranger turns up and whisks him away, along with 14 other students, to an obscure location. Here he is thrown into a school unlike any he has ever known – a school with an entirely unique array of subjects. Here he makes friends, and a few fiends, and begins to unearth the dark secrets behind the Lair.
Well written, and enjoyable, R.J. Vickers has designed a magic system that is uniquely her own. She has created a believable cast of troubled teens, sprinkled in a generous amount of typical High School drama and insecurities and added a dusting of magic. Her concepts are well considered and should lead into a promising series as Tristan and his friends discover more of what their future entails.
Buy the book from Amazon, available in paperback or ebook format.