Omega City

Diana Peterfreund. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-231085-9

The missing page from a kooky aerospace scientist’s lost diary is the clue that sends Gillian Seagret, her younger brother, and her friends on an adventure into an underground bunker. But the treasure she expects to find—the prototype for a long-lasting battery—is nothing compared to what they actually discover: the subterranean Omega City, built during the Cold War to support life if the Earth were to become uninhabitable. The city has fallen into disrepair, and the pitfalls in its crumbling depths are as much a threat as the trio of armed thugs who are trying to steal Dr. Underberg’s inventions for themselves. In this fast-paced series opener, the author’s first for middle-graders, Peterfreund’s (Across a Star-Swept Sea) focus on character development is complemented by the equal attention she gives to the vast underground city itself. Gillian’s instincts to protect her friends and clear her historian father’s tarnished name are admirable, but Peterfreund gives every character the opportunity to grow, revealing themselves for who they really are. Ages 8–12. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Apr.)