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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Unlock the Unknown: New Earth by Michael Estafo and Sabrina Estafo is the first book in the Unlock the Unknown series. It all begins with a card reading foretelling their future. Four strangers are brought together through an opportunity at the live-in school on New Earth. Soren Cutrone's world came crashing down when Earth was destroyed, along with the loss of his family and his age, which reverts back to sixteen, with him having no idea how to get back to his true age. Asuka Akioto is the princess of Okulis Orbitorium who craves spontaneity and adventure through partying, drugs, and racing. Damonico Damirror is the heir of Wretched Hollows with a secret relationship and a hidden beast within. Amelia Vossler of Kandy Kingdom wants to be accepted and dreams of having a bakery, but finding her place is difficult when she belongs to an evil family. The four are forced together through a surprising destiny meant to bring unity to the galaxy.
The setting is fantastic and well-written, with the plot being character driven by a group of people that are layered and flawed. The four characters don't share the same goals on the surface, and they're not necessarily acting in the best interests of the others. A lot of humor is derived from their clashing and their attempts to learn how to work together as a group in order to understand their destiny. They do share the same desire for freedom, though their reasons are vastly different: Soren wants to be forty-five again, Damonico doesn't want to hide his relationship anymore, Asuka wants to be free to do whatever she wants, and Mia wants to break away from her family. Through twists and turns, they keep being brought back together in surprising ways.
Secrets drive the plot as each of them has a secret they don't want uncovered. Soren stands out mainly for his politeness and specific speech, not using the same jargon as the teenagers. He's brilliant but also caring, and is one of the nicest characters. A lot of sympathy goes out to the group for they're all struggling in one way or another, but a possibility of friendship may be what saves them all. Sabrina Estafo and Michael Estafo bring a fun perspective and excitement to the science fiction genre, with worlds rich in details, jargon, history, and culture. Unlock the Unknown: New Earth is an exciting start to a series; clever and funny, dangerous and action-packed.