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Publisher: Landstrider Press (2015)
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Alexander Edlund’s Keelic and the Space Pirates is a classic coming-of-age in an anything-but-classic environment. Eleven-year-old Keelic Travers wants what most young boys want, adventure and friendship, and he hopes to find both in his new home in Ermol, an “unspoiled oasis.”

Having left his best friend and the overpopulated world-city on Pesfor, Keelic initially finds excitement in the mostly rural world where his family has been sent to work. His award-winning exobiologist father shows Keelic how to properly explore and even allows him to explore on his own, but Keelic’s joy evaporates when he begins attending his new school, where he is constantly bullied. His only refuge is his advanced mathematics classroom, where he is the only student with an instructor who actually listens to him.

He believes he’ll never find a friend until he meets an alien left at his school by military officers. Thotti, a sentient creature who communicates non-verbally with colors and images, becomes Keelic’s constant companion when Keelic’s mother brings the creature home with them. He and Thotti discover a secret hidden deep in the Ermolian forest, a secret which could end up saving the lives of the entire planet.

Keelic is far from perfect. Though extremely smart, his adventurous, impish nature proves his strength and his downfall. Whether collecting specimens for his father or battling imaginary spaceships with Thotti, Keelic loves anything that forces him to use his wits, but at the same time, he’s still the fragile new kid who just wants to be accepted, or better yet, left alone.

This spunky fighter has a heart of gold and begins to question very grown-up concepts like self-awareness and free-will before the novel’s end. Dreaming of a war that occurred over two hundred years ago, Keelic sees only the glory of being a war hero until he must face real death at the arrival of the space pirates. This dynamic protagonist learns that life isn’t a game, and defending yourself often means less than defending others. His emotional growth isn’t linear; he often spins in moral circles, much like the real world.

Hardcore space opera fans of all ages will appreciate how seamlessly the author integrates the technical jargon of the novel. Readers will be fully immersed in a world three-hundred-years in the future, where humans are only one species of many, and small details create a believable environment that is such an intricate part of excellent science fiction.

Please click here to enjoy Keelic and the Space Pirates book trailer.