Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Middle-Grade Review: My Best Friend Runs Venus by Katrina S. Forest

My Best Friend Runs Venus
By Katrina S. Forest
Genre: Science Fiction
Age category: Middle Grade
Release Date: June 1, 2019

At 12.9 years old, number-obsessed Kade Walker has never heard of death. Literally. But neither has anyone else he knows. Kade is one of hundreds of kids "living" across the solar system through robotic avatars while their real bodies sleep in pods on Earth. Unfortunately, robot bodies can be hacked.

One day during an (innocent!) experiment, Kade unwittingly breaks a major security wall and releases an infamous hacker. The madwoman targets all the royal avatars, including Kade’s best friend, Princess Tamika of Venus.

If Kade and Tamika don’t want to become the hacker’s puppets, they’ve got to stop her fast--even if it means waking up on Earth to fight with bodies they never realized could be hurt.

My Review:
In My Best Friend Runs Venus, there’s a lovely blend of sci-fi, adventure and whimsy. The main characters are a couple of pre-teens who have been paired up as companions and sent to Venus via robotic avatars to run the planet. Their curiosity gets the better of them, and they activate a teleporter that releases a dangerous criminal who is intent on taking over their sims and destroying the status quo.

Had I read this as a kid, I think I would have loved it. As it is, I just really liked it, which isn’t all that different, really. I very much enjoyed the planet hopping, the banter between Kade and Tamika, the illustrations, and the imaginative technology that made everything possible: the flavor sticks, the teleporters, the avatars, the environmental overlays. And I thought the story was well executed and well organized. Just overall good!

Still, the idea of sending children to rule the planets of the solar system was interesting, but I couldn’t help but sense the unfairness of it all. The kids are essentially locked into sleep pods and expected to live out their lives as their avatars. The companions are basically the appointed best friend of each of the royals, and they aren’t even allowed to look human, that that seemed to bother Kade too much.

Through it all, I had questions. Did the parents go about their lives on the home world when not overseeing their children? Who else is on each of the planets? How are these children going to have families of their own and keep humanity going if they are living virtual lives? As an adult reader trying to understand the world, these kept me wondering. Would a young reader ask the same? I don’t know.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to younger readers who enjoy science fiction and adventures, particularly those who like imagining the possibilities of space colonization. Adults looking for a lighter read may also enjoy this, particularly if they enjoy middle-grade fiction.

I received the review copy of this book from the author via Lola’s Blog Tours.

About the Author:

Katrina S. Forest is a teacher by day, author by any-other-time-she-can-get. Her work has sold to a variety of magazines, ranging from Flash Fiction Online to Highlights to Children. She loves nerdy conventions and believes video games can be a force of creative good instead of evil.

You can find and contact Katrina S. Forest here:
- Website
- Facebook
- Twitter
- Goodreads
- Amazon

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