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The Killer Species series starts off promisingly with a story of ecoterrorism in the Everglades. Sixth-grader Emmet Doyle is bitterly unhappy when his father, a National Park Service scientist, is reposted from Montana to Florida, right on the heels of Emmet's mother's death. When they first meet the Everglades Park superintendent and her son, Calvin, Emmet finds a lot more to fuel his anger: Calvin's widowed mother and his dad quickly grow fond of each other; Calvin, exceedingly bright and accomplished but prone to shrugging off any other boy's concerns, makes for a frustrating friend; Emmet's new science teacher is a bully; and mutant owl-alligator hybrids preying on pythons threaten to put the park in danger. Most of the narrative follows Emmet's viewpoint, with injections of the mutant breeder's diabolical world and glimpses into Dr. Doyle's pursuit of the villain. Both Emmet and Calvin talk and act with realistic preteen cleverness and humour. Well plotted to keep the suspense at full throttle, Spradlin's latest also has enough science to engage young sci-fi fans. Grades 4-7. --Francisca Goldsmith
Michael P. Spradlin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Youngest Templar trilogy, the Wrangler Award Winner OFF LIKE THE WIND! THE FIRST RIDE OF THE PONY EXPRESS, and several other novels and picture books. He holds a black belt in television remote control and is fluent in British, Canadian, Australian, and several other English-based languages. He lives in Lapeer, Michigan. Visit him online at www.michaelspradlin.com.