Synopsis: "On the small space station Azura, Maxion Belmont is constantly torn between his two passions—engineering and music. Both are hobbies handed down from his father, which is bittersweet since his death two years ago. While his hydrodriver is great for repairing starship parts, his father’s old string instrument tugs at the latent grief Max hides from his mom and classmates with each chord he strums.
When a foreign starship appears on the horizon, Azura welcomes their first tourist in years. Enter Mr. Hames, starship captain and space-brained traveler. But there’s something weird about the stranger-turned-substitute teacher. He has no idea how to teach and thinks enlisting a group of twelve-year-olds to become his starship “crew” is totally normal. Or maybe it’s the fact he keeps raving about the existence of alien creatures in the vacuum of space: star whales.
As Max and the rest of Mr. Hames’s class/crew uncover the mysteries of the star whales, they discover they aren’t the only ones looking for the elusive creatures—and not every whaler has good intentions. Confronted with questions about his own father’s history with the star whales, Max must decide how far he’ll go to understand not only his father, but also the boy he’s become since his death . . . even at the expense of the star whales themselves."
My Review: I originally picked up this book because of the beautiful cover but I got so much more than expected. As someone who has only just begun reading Science Fiction books, I wasn't sure what a Middle Grade would be like. It was actually pretty easy to get into and imagine through the descriptions Thorne gives, making it a vivid setting. I also enjoyed the undertones in this coming of age story of friendships growing and changing. We also get to see a variety of adult to kid interactions and some great lessons about whom to trust. Don't get me wrong, this is definitely not all emotion, there is some great action and awe inspiring moments. I was left really hoping there is such a thing as Star Whales out there in the universe.
My Rating: I was very pleasantly surprised with this book, Thorne did a fantastic job of intertwining real life situations young readers face with a out of this world setting so vivid you can picture it. I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.