So after all that about the pleasures of reading Cold books on a hot day, what did I actually read this week? A book about a boy moving from Montana to the Everglades, and suffering from the heat something fierce--Killer Species: Menace from Deep, by Michael P. Spradlin (Scholastic, 2013).
Turns out Emmet, the young protagonist, has more to worry about than starting a new school, living next to alligators, and swatting mosquitoes when his father takes on a new job in Florida. A misguided genius has come up with a brilliant plan to rid the Everglades of invasive pythons--he's genetically manipulated alligators to create a super-predator. These new creatures are alligators crossed with raptors--and they are, indeed, effective at killing pythons.
But they don't stop there.
And gradually the genius creator gets more and more evil, kidnapping Emmet's father as a hostage, and becoming all to ready to kill people to save the Everglades. It's up to Emmet and his new friend, Calvin, whose mother is the head park ranger, Dr. Geaux, to save Emmet's dad and thwart the evil supergators.
I was doubtful when this book arrived--it didn't immediately look like a
book for Me. But I sincerely enjoyed the fast-paced story, and found
the implications of the genetic tinkering and its concomitant ethical
considerations fascinating. The growing friendship between Calvin and Emmet (and between the mother of the first and the father of the second, for that matter--each of them have only the one parent) added character interest, that I appreciated. Obviously the evil genius never read Jurassic Park, or he might have done things differently--my credulity was strained a tad at his lack of critical thinking viz the implications of creating a new super predator. And he could have chosen a better nom de publicity for himself--Dr. Catalyst, as the young characters are quick to notice, sounds a tad silly...
A good one for the elevenish year old boy (or girl, for that matter) who enjoys adventure mixed with science. And it's the start of a new series, which will be nice for the kids who enjoy this one!
Bonus: Calvin's dad was Seminole, and his mom is non-white (possibly Creole) so there's diversity.