Reviews for Mike Stellar : Nerves of Steel

Booklist Reviews 2009 August #1
In the year 2174, Mike Stellar's parents suddenly announce that he needs to join them on an expedition to colonize Mars. He is less than enthusiastic about the trip, partly because he left his sister and best friend behind, but also because many things seem fishy from the start. Mike begins to investigate the mission and is helped in his efforts by an eccentric girl (blue braces, ill-fitting clothes, goofy outlook) named Larc. As the plot unwinds, Mike discovers that his parents are part of a secret scheme to rescue a lost spaceship and to thwart efforts to heedlessly colonize planets. He also discovers some astonishing truths about Larc's identity. Holt deftly blends the fantastical technologiy with objects from our contemporary world, and she fills out the exciting, if somewhat complicated story with smoothly integrated humor. Sci-fi fans who enjoy reading about a future world filled with laughs will enjoy this. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
After the failure of a previous space mission, Mike and his family set off to help establish a new human colony on Mars. However, Mike suspects his parents of sabotage, leaving him to save the day. The plot pushes Mike along from adventure to adventure. Though he's sometimes wrong, there's never any doubt he'll ultimately succeed, sapping the story's tension. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 May #1
Strange behavior from all the grown-ups and the over-hasty departure of an interstellar expedition raise a lad's suspicions in this adventure-comedy set in 2174. Still wondering if there's truth to the rumors that his scientist parents are to blame for the disappearance of a previous expedition, Mike finds troubling clues that they're out to sabotage the newest one too after they hustle him aboard a ship that takes off almost immediately for the nearest wormhole. On the way, not only does Larc, an oddly knowing classmate with long, white hair, attach herself to him, but he's horrified to find his dragonesque old teacher Mrs. Halebopp aboard as well. As it turns out, they and his parents are allied in a secret effort to rescue the lost explorers while exposing a corporation's ruthless scheme to reap quick profits by terraforming newly discovered planets at the expense of local ecologies. Readers will enjoy watching Mike work his way through both muddled feelings and adult secrets with savvy sleuthing, sharp observation and courage in the clutch. (Science fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 June #4

Even though he lives in the year 2174, Mike Stellar is a fairly normal preteen: good-humored, slightly disgruntled when it comes to schoolwork and a bit of a troublemaker along with his hyper best friend Stinky ("the human embodiment of the word 'staccato' "). When his scientist parents announce that the family is moving to Mars without providing a reason, Mike's detective work begins. He puts on a brave face ("I wanted to meet my fate like a man. Even if just a hyperventilating man in a shiny jumpsuit"), but is shaken by the changes and the sudden appearance of his parents' assistant, creepy Mr. Shugabert, who watches his every step. As their spaceship Sojourner approaches "the Fold" in which the last shuttle was presumed destroyed (and Stinky's brother lost), Mike and his odd new friend Larc gather clues and analyze who they can trust. Holt's children's book debut whizzes by at warp speed--the suspenseful plot and the precocious yet complex hero combine for a fun ride with a satisfying resolution. Ages 9-12. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 November

Gr 4-6--Mike Stellar does not have nerves of steel. In fact, he doesn't have much right now but his best friend. Then his parents announce that they are taking part in a Mars mission and he has to join them. Now Mike has to spend the next few years on a small spaceship with his mother and father--oh, joy. Suddenly, strange things begin to pique his curiosity, among them his parents are distracted and don't even get upset when his sister goes missing back on Earth, and his mother's assistant seems to be following him everywhere. Maybe they're tied to the previous doomed mission that destroyed his parents' reputation. Maybe he's losing his mind. Maybe Mike can find his nerves of steel. Sadly, the story line seems more like aluminum, thin and shaky. It jumps around too much and readers get lost trying to see what happened and why. Because the plotting is chaotic, it becomes difficult to connect with the characters. Bruce Coville's My Teacher Is an Alien (S & S, 1990) and M. T. Anderson's Whales on Stilts! (Harcourt, 2005) are better choices for readers requesting humorous science fiction.--Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ

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