Sunday, July 14, 2019

Review - The Red Maze

The Red Maze (5 Worlds #3)
by Mark Siegel & Alexis Siegel
illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller & Boya Sun
Date: 2019
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 256
Format: e-book
Source: library

In book 3, Oona Lee is determined to light Moon Yatta's beacon and continue her quest to save the galaxy. But reaching the red beacon means navigating an impossible maze of pipes and facing devious enemies at every turn. Luckily, her friend Jax Amboy has returned from his adventures transformed! Now he must confront the owner of his former starball team, a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to get his best player back on the field . . . and who can grant them access to the beacon. Meanwhile, Oona and An Tzu find a mysterious rebel leader and release a surprising power within Oona's magic. Will they make it in time to stop the evil force seeking to rule the 5 Worlds?

(synopsis from Goodreads)

It's rare that I find a series where my enjoyment doesn't go down with each subsequent installment. But I'm still enjoying this journey through the 5 Worlds!

In The Red Maze, Oona is trying to light the red beacon on Moon Yatta. Unlike in some of the previous books, I felt like there was definitely some real-world commentary going on. Moon Yatta is pretty much like the current United States, a superpower with a newly elected populist government, a greed-driven obsession with the economy (at the expense of the environment), and even a for-profit health care system. I'm not sure if all middle graders will pick up on the parallels, but older readers will. I'm not always a fan of politics in fiction, but in this case it isn't too intrusive, and it's quite necessary for the plot. Oona needs to light the red beacon... but the Moon Yattans have encased it in a maze so they can draw on its power. Fear-mongering abounds as the leadership tries to convince the population that if the beacon is lit, their economy will collapse. (Never mind that the beacons need to be lit to prevent an interplanetary environmental catastrophe!)

There's more nice character development here, and some helpful refreshers about past events. (I couldn't remember why Oona was blue, but we were given a quick recap.) An Tzu is still suffering from vanishing disease, although the kids have found a workaround for the moment. And Jax... well, Jax has probably changed the most out of any of them (except maybe Oona). He's an interesting character, and it's fun to watch his growth.

I'm still as enthused about this series as I was after I read the first book. So I'll be eagerly awaiting the next one, The Amber Anthem. Do we really have to wait until 2020?

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 4/5
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Illustration: 5/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 5 ladybugs

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