What do magnetic slime, a secret code, and the periodic table have in common? They’re all part of the science-themed escape room that Kate’s science teacher puts on for their class. Will Kate and her friends be able to use their science know-how to crack the code before time runs out?
The Great Escape begins with conflicts that everyone can relate to: friendship drama, arguing with a classmate, and competition. Kate and her class are broken up into groups in order to complete a science project. The group that wins gets to show the whole school how to make a pumpkin vomit. Kate is determined that her group will win, but when Kate and another classmate get into a tug-of-war over pliers, both groups are forced to stay after school and complete an escape room which will require everyone to work together.
The escape room involves helping the legendary scientist, Rosalind Franklin, who was “a science superhero who used X-rays to take images of DNA.” As Kate and the other kids try to solve the escape room’s mystery, they learn about Rosalind Franklin and other chemistry facts. The kids also learn the importance of working together. Even though the kids rely on science to escape the room, there is enough dialogue and spooky situations to keep the story entertaining.
The short chapters all begin with definitions of science words such as deoxyribonucleic acid, condenser, and double helix. Simple black and white illustrations appear every 1 to 3 pages. While the illustrations help break up the text, they will not help readers understand the plot or visualize the characters. The book ends with instructions on how to make magnetic slime. The book includes some other experiments, but there are no instructions on how to perform those experiments. Even though The Great Escape is the second book in the series, each book can be read as a stand-alone.
The second installment of the Kate the Chemist Series focuses less on science and more on peer relationships, which makes the story interesting. The arguing between the girl’s group and the boy’s group is realistic and relatable, and the fall theme gives the story a hint of spooky suspense. The Great Escape will appeal to a large range of readers, not just those interested in science. If you’re looking for a book that may spark readers’ interest in science, The Great Escape would be a good choice.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Kate’s mother takes Tylenol for a headache.
Two Riggs means twice the adventures—and twice the trouble. Now that Rigg has a copy, they have decided to diverge. One will attempt to get to Earth and stop the invasion. The other will explore the wallfolds of Garden and decide if the walls should stay up or come down.
The Rigg that goes to Earth is willing to destroy his parent planet if that is the only option for protecting Garden. He quickly discovers that the situation is not that simple. Earth may be in as much danger as Garden from an enemy that cannot be fought or reasoned with.
Meanwhile, the original Rigg explores his own world. He encounters slavery and murder, and is faced with the dilemma of how to use his powers. As a time traveler, he can change anything he wants, but should he? If he allows people to die, is he complicit in their murders? He cannot save everyone…or can he?
The final installment of the Pathfinder series has everything from Neanderthals to alien races. The brain-tickling problems that come with time travel continue, this time compounded with moral questions. Just because Rigg can save a life doesn’t mean he should, but how can he let people die horrific deaths when he has the power to change the outcome? At what point does free will become an illusion? Visitors again expands Rigg’s world from a few wallfolds to several populated worlds, and provides readers with an extremely satisfying ending.
- Umbo and Param kiss several times. Years later, when they are married, Param is irritated that her husband never asks for intimacy or “even wait[s] around as if hoping.”
- Leaky wonders if she is infertile or if her husband is.
- Leaky admits she had a botched C-section and was so, “torn up inside the midwife said [she’d] never be able to bear.”
- Ram plays matchmaker with Noxon and Deborah, to which Deborah says, “We didn’t agree to mate and make babies.”
- When speaking of Neanderthals and Erectids (extinct species), a man describes their mating as “being kidnapped and sequestered” while his daughter insists it is “rape.”
- Square, one of the first people to grow up with a facemask, discusses the need for him to mate with Umbo. “And when you take a mate and we find the best way to get facemasks on your babies.”
- Noxon is copied, and both copies are in love with Deborah. The Noxon who was not exposed to radiation decides he will be Deborah’s husband because his gametes are likely superior to the Noxon who was exposed to radiation.
- Noxon kisses Deborah. “Whereupon Noxon sprang from his chair, took her into his arms, and kissed her . . . She responded with as much enthusiasm as was appropriate with her father present. Which was to say that, upon repetition, in private, the whole business seemed to work much better.”
- Umbo realizes Param will have to marry him or kill him because he could become a political threat to her. “It should be clear that in order to keep you from being a divisive force in the kingdom, she either has to marry [me]…Or kill me.” Param decides to marry him.
- To explain Rigg’s face, Ram Odin lies and says Rigg’s face melted in a fire.
- Umbo’s father hits Umbo and breaks his son’s skull. “Father began striking him with the flat of the blade, hitting him on the shoulders and the side of his head, until young Umbo hung limp and unconscious . . .‘”I think the skull is broken here. Look how it’s swelling, but it looks dented anyways.’”
- Rigg visits a tiny town where a young girl was raped and murdered. “He tried to kiss her and she was still too young and small to put up much of a fight. When he was done with the rape, she was crying and her clothing was torn . . . he dragged her to her feet and strangled her. It was brutal. He held her up and she flailed and kicked, but her arms weren’t long enough to reach his eyes and her kicking him did no good.”
- When exposed, a murderer commits suicide.
- In one version of the future, Loaf’s throat is slit, his wife is run through with a sword, and their baby is thrown out of a second-story window. Umbo is told that this is what happened as he does not witness any of it.
- A man kills Deborah. “He had a fist-sized stone in his hand and he was bringing back his arm and before Noxon could come out of sliced time to shout at Deborah the stone was already in the air . . . It struck Deborah on the side of the head . . . and dropped her instantly.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Shut up is said several times.
- Son-of-a-bitch is said once.
- Ram asks the expendable if he has an anus and if it works.
- Rigg and Ram discuss the morality of going back in time and preventing a young girl from being raped and murdered. Ram says, “You can’t just go killing people because you know they’re going to do something terrible…because until he does the murder, he doesn’t deserve to die.”
- Rigg comes to the conclusion that while he has, “this godlike power to force other people not to do evil…choos[ing] not to use it doesn’t make [Rigg] evil.” He decides on a course of minimal change.
- Umbo wonders if the replication of genes is all there is to life, since “we evolved so that our greatest pleasure comes from sex.”
by Morgan Lynn
Rigg and Umbo have started to hone their time traveling skills—and just in time. They discover that in the not-so-far future Earth visits Garden with the intent to completely destroy Garden. Now the two boys race to figure out why their parent planet would destroy a colony they created. Something the Earthlings found on Garden horrified them, but what?
Garden cannot fend off these attackers, so Rigg will have to find the motive behind the attack and change the past to stop it from ever happening. As Rigg searches for answers, he travels through different wallfolds. One is extinct of all human life, another seemingly populated by poop-throwing yahoos and sentient mice, and in a third, the people have evolved to live in the sea. But wherever he goes, Rigg finds people who want to manipulate him. With no one willing to tell him the whole truth, how can Rigg decide which path to take?
The second installation in the Pathfinder series takes the story up a notch. By expanding Rigg’s world from one wallfold to four, the reader is shown several different paths the human race could have taken. The what if’s are tantalizing. The world Rigg explores is as interesting and exciting as the actions he takes. Ruins is in no way linear. Now that Rigg and Umbo are skilled time travelers, their paths jump forward, go backwards, and sometimes cease to exist entirely. While these time jumps may cause one to stop and ponder for a while, they are written in a way that is relatively easy to follow.
- When discussing a parasite, it is said that “the only part of the earthborn brain it could control was the wild, competitive beast, bent on reproduction at any cost . . . That sounds like soldiers on leave.”
- Rigg notes that some mice are mating. Later, when starting a colony, Loaf says the mice are “mating their little brains out.”
- The humans that live under the ocean are naked. Larex comments on how Rigg is staring, to which Rigg replies, “I’m fifteen years old, I think . . . my eye goes to naked women.”
- Umbo explains that when they change something in time, children will be born, but the “mix of genes . . . will be different. Perhaps conception will happen on a different day. Or a different sperm will win through.”
- Yahoos, creatures that appear to be similar to humans with little intelligence, throw poop at Umbo and Loaf. “The watcher flung something out of his lofty perch. It splatted against Umbo’s cheek and shoulder. It stank. It clung . . . it was nightsoil. Presumably the watcher’s own.”
- Param is murdered. When she is skipping time, the mice move a metal rod into the space she is about to occupy. When she and the rod collide, “Param felt a searing agony in her throat, the heat of billions of molecules being torn about . . . she lived just long enough to feel the heat pulse through her entire body, every nerve screaming with the pain of burning to death in a searing moment.”
- To keep the mice in line, Olivenko points out that the humans “can break their little skulls under our feet.”
- Rigg and Loaf discuss the morality of preemptive killing.
- When Ram Odin tries to stab Rigg, Rigg jumps into the past and kills Ram with a knife. “He was also completely aware of the knife in Ram Odin’s hand, the hand that was darting forward to plunge it into Rigg’s kidney . . . In the very moment he caught Ram Odin’s knife, Rigg shifted half an hour back in time . . . the knife easily passed between the ribs of Ram Odin’s back and pierced his heart. A little flicking motion and both ventricles of Ram Odin’s heart were split open. The blood of his arteries ceased to pulse. He slumped over and, without time even to utter a sound, he died.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- The words “pissed” and “butt-ugly” are used once.
- Symbiotic creatures evolve so they can live in conjunction with humans. They attach to the human body and, depending on the breed, can provide benefits such as breathing underwater and increasing a person’s speed, eyesight, etc.
- Rigg discovers the Odinfolders have meddled in genetic alteration, and selectively bred themselves for traits they considered desirable.
- Humans are defined as any creature, no matter how diverse, that is descended from what we consider a homo sapien.
- Mice were bred for intelligence, to the point that Rigg says their souls look very similar to human souls.
- Param briefly wonders if death is better than life.
- Rigg accidentally copies himself by time traveling. Vadesh warns him to be careful or he will “run out of souls to populate these bodies that you accidentally make.”
by Morgan Lynn
Rigg is as unimportant as a young boy can be. He lives in almost complete seclusion in the far northern woods of his wallfold. He and his father are trappers, coming down from the mountains only to sell their furs. But Rigg has a talent. He can see the path left by every living being that has traversed Garden. This skill comes in handy when tracking animals, but it is not until his father dies that Rigg beings to realize the full extent of his powers.
With his dying breath, Rigg’s father tells him a secret—he is not Rigg’s father. Shocked and hurt, Rigg must travel into the heart of civilization to find his family. He explores his terrifyingly powerful talent on the way, using it to get out of trouble time and time again. But when he arrives at his wallfold’s capital, he realizes that his talent may be most useful in protecting himself from his very own family.
Orson Scott Card creates a fascinatingly unique world. His detailed understanding of physics and his elaborate exploration of time travel puzzle and delight. Rigg’s story is wonderful to follow. It is exciting, dangerous, and enthralling. The skill in which Orson Scott Card builds this world will quickly suck readers into a wonderful trilogy. There are adult conversations regarding sex and violence, but the adult content is not described in detail.
- Loaf tells Rigg that he threw out this first wife when he came home from a lengthy trip and discovered she had three children from three different men. Loaf says she was lucky he didn’t kill her, as was his right.
- Rigg hangs a purse of jewels under his clothes, around his waist. Loaf says, “I think you carry in your crotch most of the wealth of this wallfold . . . but that’s how all young men feel, isn’t it!”
- Rigg’s father dies when a tree falls on him and he is impaled. His father calls out to him, “I have been pierced by two branches, completely through my belly.” Rigg does not see this directly, and his father makes Rigg promise, “You will not come look at me, now while I’m alive or later after I’m dead. I don’t want you to have this terrible image in your memory.”
- Rigg tries to save a boy from falling off a waterfall. In the process, he nearly knocks a man over the falls. “The weight of Rigg’s head and shoulder striking the man caused his leg to buckle, and the man twisted, started to topple forward. I came to save a boy and now I’m killing a man.”
- Umbo thinks his brother was pushed over the waterfall by Rigg. Umbo throws rocks at Rigg, nearly knocking him over the falls. Later a mob, stirred up by Umbo, comes for Rigg. Nox talks the mob down. “Why do you want to believe the worst? Why are you hungry to do a killing here today?”
- Umbo runs away because his father beats him, and after his little brother dies he was scared his father would kill him. “Perhaps Umbo was afraid . . . Everyone knew how Tegay beat him when he was angry.”
- Loaf met his wife after a battle. He was on the ground with a gash across his stomach. His wife found him, stitched him up and took him home. “By scavenger law I’m her slave,” Loaf says.
- When captured, a general threatens to torture and kill Rigg’s friends.
- A man talks about his great-grandfather, who was given, “a slow and gruesome public death . . . with his body parts fed to the royal hunting dogs.”
- Rigg hits a man on the forehead and pees on the same man during an attempt to escape his own assassination.
- Ram Odins’ neck is broken by expendables, machines that look human. “The expendable reached out with both hands, gave Ram’s head a twist, and broke his neck.”
- Peasants broke into the house the former princess was living in, and forced her to surrender all her clothing.
- Loaf injures a drunkard who was close to hurting his wife. He does this before his wife would have killed the drunk to save herself from harm.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Rigg is attacked by soldiers who are drugged to the point of being unable to recognize when they received, “orders [that] would lead directly to their deaths.”
- Rigg and several others have the ability to manipulate time to different extents. These abilities are genetic.
- Some people in Rigg’s wallfold have genetically induced powers such as projecting a wall with their minds.
- The people of Rigg’s wallfold pray to many deities such as the Wandering Saint.
- Rigg briefly wonders if he is a demon, since he has strange abilities.
- Rigg and his friends take a pilgrimage to the Tower of O, a strange structure of unknown origins that is the oldest structure in the Wallfold.
by Morgan Lynn