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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Star Binder by Robert Appleton is an outstanding work of young adult science fiction. Jim Trillion is a thirteen-year-old drifter on the planet Mars. Jim and his friend, Sergei, spend their days skimming credits. Digitally pick-pocketing others provides travel money and the freedom to roam. While working in a local diner, skimming customers, Jim and Sergei notice two “off-worlders” in trench coats hanging around. A loud explosion, screams and gunfire erupt, insurgents charge into the diner on a mission to kill. One of the trench coat men intervenes, taking on the invaders single handedly. Trench Coat man is wounded; Sergei and Jim help him escape the violent chaos, but soon part ways. Within days of the attack, Jim and Sergei are on the run and almost out of money. Suddenly the mysterious Trench Coat man reappears, offering them a chance of a lifetime; a top secret project, a career opportunity with unlimited possibilities. Sergei leaves, abandoning Jim on board a shuttle, heading to who knows where, to do who knows what. From this moment on, Jim’s life will never be the same for what lies ahead of him could be only imagined in his dreams.
Robert Appleton’s Star Binder is entertaining, action-packed science fiction at its best. Engaging! Captivating! The writing style is smooth as silk and perfectly seamless. In a work written for the young adult audience, Appleton challenges the mind, body and soul. He entices the reader’s curiosity with elements of the unknown while stimulating them with a plot of extreme competition. Appleton also appeals to the heart, pricking emotions with depictions of homelessness, abandonment, feelings of being way in over your head, and not able to understand the world around you. The characterization is top-notch; the diverse cast of characters feeds off each other, creating a one-of-a-kind core group. The hero is young, loyal, intelligent and a risk taker. Although he seems careless at times, he searches diligently for the meaning of life, desiring answers to questions just beyond his reach. His sidekick buffets and challenges him, causing his character to evolve. Caught in an unbelievable adventure, sailing into the dark sea of the unknown, Jim and Sergei are the contemporary sci-fi version of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Robert Appleton is a talented storyteller; he says he is inspired by the night sky. By all means, keep looking up into darkness and lighting up our world with your imagination.