“Horizon” by Scott Westerfeld, 241 pages.
While enroute to a robotics tournament, flying across the Arctic Circle on a flight from New York City to Japan, Aero Horizon 16 suddenly crashes. Only eight young survivors emerge from the wreckage. Instead of seeing a frozen landscape, they are thoroughly dazzled and confused to find that they’re in an exotic jungle.
Intriguing and mysterious, the jungle is full of danger. Strange carnivorous plants, huge predatory birds and other fearsome creatures abound. There are also mysterious, unfriendly forces which appear to be working against the survivors.
The situation is dire. The eight have no idea of where they are, how to get home again, and how to survive in the meantime. They know nothing about the other passengers of Aero Horizon 16. What has happened to them? If they are dead, where are their bodies? If something from the jungle has taken them, where have they gone?
Then, incredibly, the survivors discover a device that can alter gravity.
The tension and suspense in this fast-paced story is almost palpable, and the conclusion is a cliffhanger. (The second title in this seven-book series, Jennifer Nielsen’s “Deadzone”, has just been published.) Incorporating many elements of science fiction, a well-developed setting and third-person narration which switches between the eight survivors, “Horizon” is a thoroughly gripping, fight-for-survival tale (which is tied in with an online game).
** Recommended for ages 9 to 14 years of age.
** Reviewed by Sally Hengeveld, librarian, Stratford Public Library, Stratford, Ontario.