cover image Battle for the Park (Futureland #1)

Battle for the Park (Futureland #1)

H.D. Hunter, illus. by Khadijah Khatib. Random House, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-47942-1

In 2048, Black middle schooler Cameron J. Walker lives in Futureland, a flying futuristic theme park he helps his family run. He’s literally on top of the world until his parents decide that Futureland’s next destination will be his mother’s hometown, Atlanta, where they’ll remain for the year while Cameron attends his first “real” school Earth-side, staying with his grandmother on school nights. New friends, portrayed as racially diverse, help Cameron settle in; he gets to assist with Futureland on the weekends; and excitement is high for the park’s local launch. But everything changes when the park’s robots start to malfunction, exhibiting emotional responses more complex than their coding should allow, and kids begin going missing. Cameron and his new pals start unraveling the occurrences, hoping to link them with his parents’ odd behavior and a seedy corporation that’s gentrifying Atlanta. Interspersed with comics-style illustrations by Khatib (The Marvellers) and featuring enigmatic interstitials, Hunter’s debut foregrounds futuristic tech and themes about the value of charting one’s own path, creating an exhilarating mystery. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Nov.)