cover image Phoenix


S.F. Said, illus. by Dave McKean. Candlewick, $19.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8850-9

Said reunites with his Varjak Paw collaborator, McKean, for an SF adventure that favors an elaborate cosmology over science, as Lucky, a boy of mysterious parentage, discovers that it’s up to him to save the galaxy from destruction. There is no shortage of enmity between humans and the extraterrestrial creatures they dismiss simply as “Aliens,” and the two sides are engaged in a devastating war in which entire suns are going supernova and collapsing into black holes. Lucky barely escapes from his home moon on an alien starship, losing his single mother in the process, and he soon learns that the aliens are far less different from humans than he had been taught, and that neither side of the conflict is in the right. Powerful and ancient beings known as the Astraeus are helpless against a growing evil force, and Lucky must use his own unexplained, newly awakening superpowers to end the war. Coincidences abound in Said’s story, but the plentiful intergalactic action should easily hold readers’ attention, and McKean’s haunting illustrations strongly support the mystical nature of the adventure. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)