In Ryan Peek’s time-split YA science fiction novel, a team of teenagers races against a horde of malicious alien machines to destroy their computer virus that could be used to annihilate the world.
The book is part of the Holding the Fort series, which revolves around six children of parents who work at the Blackwoods Military Research Facility. In this volume, the teens learn of the alien threat, presumably through their parents, and set out to save the day.
To destroy the virus, the teenagers, who call themselves Team Blackwoods, must travel back to year 1999, to a forest near a small town in Washington State where they know, from the future, that the Zyvantian spacecraft containing the virus will crash. The machines send a family of indestructible, ruthless robots to stop the them. Team Blackwoods must outrun the robots and sidestep law enforcement officers investigating their activities. If successful, they must also build a Chrono-Warp machine to transport them back to their current lives.
The six lead characters have distinct characteristics—Ethan is team leader; his best friend, Caleb, is the group’s genius; Annika is an expert sniper and sentinel, etc.— and Peek builds authentic friendship arcs within the team. Ethan and Andy, an android humanoid and group member, develop a close bond; a subtle romance is sparked between Annika and Ethan.
The novel intertwines multiple exhilarating missions and mysteries, and the team’s journey is packed with dangerous situations that force the friends to be creative, such as when Ethan and Annika find that, in a shootout with the robots, their laser shots go through the machines, barely damaging them. Throughout, Peek weaves entertaining dialogue and humor, tempering the tension.
The story’s background information emerges piecemeal, and those unfamiliar with the previous titles may feel lost at first. Once things begin to gel, however, readers will find that the story is written with heart and skill, providing an immersive diversion for science fiction fans.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.