by William Alexander
First sentence: “Nadia Antonovna Kollontai, the ambassador of her world, was not on her world.”
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Others in the series (though I’ve not read it): Ambassador
Content: There’s some intense moments, and maybe some difficult made-up words, but I’d give it to a 4th grader or higher. It would be in the middle grade (grades 3-5) sections of the bookstore.
I didn’t know what to expect heading into William Alexander’s latest. From the cover, something in space, most likely. What I got was an epic adventure that involved aliens, space travel, time travel, and kids learning to put aside biases and learning to work together. There’s also a side story (which was never truly fleshed out to my satisfaction, but it didn’t deter from my overall enjoyment) about deporting illegal immigrants and how that affects people. In short: there’s a lot packed into this one.
From what I understand, Gabe and Nadia’s story begins in Ambassador, but since this is a Cybils book (I could have checked it out, but I honestly didn’t know until after I’d finished Nomad) I just dove right in. And aside from some initial getting used to the world that Alexander had created — a world in which aliens from all over space and time meet together in a dream space that you get to by, well, dreaming — I fell headfirst into the story and thoroughly enjoyed my time there.
I really enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of this as well. Nadia has been in space for 40 years (and hasn’t aged; isn’t speed-of-light travel fun?) and has to learn how to get along without her sight (she lost it in a failed experiment). She didn’t moan or whine about it; she just tackled the problem and looked for solutions. Gabe was the same way with being put into a new situation with being the Ambassador of Earth. He needed to learn the rules and guidelines and how to cooperate with people who are vastly different from him, and he did.
The only thing I didn’t think fit exactly was the subplot involving Gabe’s dad being deported. It did give Alexander an excuse to use a holding area near the border in Arizona, and to spotlight the awful conditions that immigrants (especially children) were being held in. But, other than that, it really didn’t serve much of a purpose to the overall story.
But even with that one little quibble, it was a delightful book, one I’m glad I read.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)