By Author / Illustrator
Firefly Press Ltd
Paperback / softback
There's been an explosion at the University, a mysterious test creature is missing and no one is allowed in or out of the town. On top of this Lance has lost touch with his friends since starting at his new school. And now his mum has been acting strangely since they started decorating the Christmas tree... As he goes door to door trying to reunite his team, Lance realises how bad things have got. Now he, Katja, Max, Chets and Ade, plus new friend Karim, must think bigger and bolder if they are to save their families. But there's something else out there too - something straight out of their nightmares...
Sensational, stunning, scary - well worth the wait and anticipation! Crater Lake: Evolution takes place five months after we last saw Lance and the gang surviving their Y6 residential trip with its alien spore invasion of the "bug eyes". All appears to be settling down, high school has started so surely that will be the next important chapter in the lives of loyal friends Lance, Chet,Mak, Ade, Kat? From the very first pages, however, the reader can sense that something isn't quite right. The once tight-knit group seem to have (unbelievably) drifted apart. Some new faces appear to be causing waves, and then a huge explosion rocks the town, cutting it off from the outside world. Normality has definitely not returned and Lance's mum is trying to feed him a soup that, frankly, terrifies him. Have the alien spores returned?
What follows is a thrill-a -second, fast-paced, frantic, funny, witty, seriously creepy, edge-of-your-seat, holding your breath (in fear and hope) absolute belter of a book! Crater Lake Evolution is evolved, updated and up levelled in every way. Jennifer Killick excels in taking the seeds of a classic teen horror genre and moulding it to Middle Grade age 8+ perfection. As a reader, we have absolute trust in her that the danger, threat and grotesqueness of the new generation of spit balling aliens will be no more than we can handle. Cleverly, and at exactly the right times, the heart stopping, genuinely nerve shredding scenes are swiftly interspersed and intertwined with boisterous banter, some sarky side comment or a comedy quip from Lance and the gang.
Our gang of young heroes are well and truly back. All as endearing, relatable and loveable as before. All recognizable personalities in their own right and now, hilariously swelled by the addition of Lane's new friend Karim ( with the hair and the swagger ) who adds a freshness and energy to the storyline. The fact that something seems to have gone terribly wrong with the gang's bonds and loyalties is the other mystery along the way in this story. It is a mystery that the reader is as invested in, intrigued (and worried) over as in whether the alien spores will succeed in destroying the world. It is Jennifer Killick's talent that the heart warming, human aspect of the story holds as much weight as the science fiction plot of fear and danger.
I absolutely loved Crater Lake Evolution. It is packed with a joyous crew of wisecracking and wily kids, is modern, smart and classy and utterly chilling. Glorious.
256 pages / Reviewed by Jennifer Caddick, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
The first book in this thrilling, high energy series managed to be both horrifying and funny and the sequel, Crater Lake: Evolution, likewise mixes the macabre and the mirthful. Picking up six months after the horrors of a Year 6 field trip that went disastrously wrong (bug-eyed zombies, poisoned soup and enforced sleeplessness), the young residents of Straybridge now have new friends and schools. The strong bonds of friendship forged through adversity have faltered and many of the heroes of Crater Lake are struggling to adapt to their new circumstances. One bright spark for Lance, the orchestrator of their salvation at Crater Lake, is that his Mum seems much healthier - free of the anxiety and illness that has long plagued her. But when an explosion rocks Straybridge and a 'test subject' escapes from the university lab, Lance and his new friend Karim begin to suspect that the rejuvenation of Lance's Mum might have more sinister origins...
This book is a wonderful continuation of the themes developed in its predecessor - horror, comedy, friendship, bravery and trust - but the difficult transition of the principal characters from primary to secondary school gives it an added dimension. All are coming to terms with new friendship dynamics while at the same time having to band together to defeat a now more sophisticated enemy. The horrifying zombies have mutated and are now even more gruesome (think mandibles and stingers!) but the age-perfect comedy provides a perfect balance.
This book covers many important points about loyalty and being yourself but above all it is just a hugely entertaining (and spine-tingling!) read.
309 pages / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+