The Galahad Legacy, by Dom Testa (Tor, 2012, YA, 299 pages)
It's been a long and emotionally wrenching journey for the teenagers aboard the Galahad. The months since they left a dying earth, headed for a new home on a far away planet, have been filled with treachery, alien encounters, death, and danger (as well as some teenaged angst). And now, in the sixth and final book of the series, things get really exciting!!! This was the most page-turningly gripping of the lot, blending the science fiction and the human elements into a great read.
The Galahad's radiation shields are falling victim to cosmic perturbations caused by wormholes formed in space by an alien race--suddenly, the possibility that the crew will never make it to their new home seems all to real. An alien race offers a new opportunity....but will the price be too high to pay? And what of the emotional state of the crew, tested almost to the breaking point? (I, as a reader, almost reached my breaking point--my one quibble with the book was the final disaster, which arrives right as the end was in sight. I thought it was a bit much!)
I think one of the reasons why I liked this series is that the viewpoint of each book, and to some extent within the books, shifts between multiple characters. The psychology of it all becomes, as a result, more interesting, as they struggle, not just as individuals, but as crucial elements in an ensemble. It's a series that I think has broad appeal to readers who might not think they like sci fi--although the adventure in space is certainly front and center, there are elements of mystery, and elements of romance (these being teenagers), that add nuance.
I think it might have been more realistic to have played up the emotional entanglements even more than Testa does, and as I said, the unrelenting series of one crisis after another got to be a bit much for me. But that being said, I enjoyed the books--not with a passionate love, perhaps, but a considerable amount nonetheless!
Testa has taken his fascinating premise and brought it to a satisfying close. But I sure do hope there's another series in the works--I am not ready to say goodbye to the characters he created, and I do rather like a nice bit of planetary colonization....
Note on age: these are teenagers, falling in love with other and brooding about their feelings, but content-wise there is nothing to bring a blush to the check of a midde-grade reader. I'd be happy if my own eleven year old started the series.
Second note: the multicultural crew makes this a nice example of diversity in YA sci fi.
Third note: All of the teenagers are smart, though some are more obsessed with science than others. Great for the science-loving, geek-identifing teen, both boy and girl.