Title: The Comet’s Curse
Author: Dom Testa
Publisher: Tor Teen
May Contain Spoilers
When the tail of the comet Bhaktul flicks through the Earth’s atmosphere, deadly particles are left in its wake. Suddenly, mankind is confronted with a virus that devastates the adult population. Only those under the age of eighteen seem to be immune. Desperate to save humanity, a renowned scientist proposes a bold plan: to create a ship that will carry a crew of 251 teenagers to a home in a distant solar system. Two years later, the Galahad and its crew—none over the age of sixteen—is launched.
Two years of training have prepared the crew for the challenges of space travel. But soon after departing Earth, they discover that a saboteur is hiding on the Galahad! Faced with escalating acts of vandalism and terrorized by threatening messages, sixteen-year-old Triana Martell and her council soon realize that the stowaway will do anything to ensure that the Galahad never reaches its destination. The teens must find a way to neutralize their enemy. For if their mission fails, it will mean the end of the human race….
I haven’t read many sci-fi novels lately, so when I was given the opportunity to read The Comet’s Curse, the first book in Dom Testa’s Galahad series, I jumped at the chance. The premise intrigued me; 251 teens are sent away from Earth after a comet unleashes a deadly plague on the planet. Nobody over the age of 18 is immune to it, and there is no cure. Fearing that the disease will continue to wipe out a bigger and bigger percentage of the population, a noted scientist urges a desperate plan to save humankind, instead of waiting for a cure that may never come. Proposing to send a group of gifted young adults into space in search of a new home, his plan is met with mixed reactions. Some openly oppose wasting the time and money on saving such a small group of kids. Others see the wisdom of this last ditch effort to preserve the species, and agree to devote the time to implement the desperate plan.
I loved this book when the focus was on the kids on the space ship. They have had to say good-bye to their families and their homes, and they will never see any of their old friends again. They have the sad knowledge that everyone left behind will eventually succumb to the virus. They also have a lot of pressure placed on each and every one of them. In order to ensure their survival, they all have to work together and learn everything they can to help once they find a new planet to colonize. They have to know how to raise enough food to feed everyone, how to build shelters, how to provide for themselves entirely. They will lose contact with everyone from Earth early in their journey, so they are essentially on their own.
With so much at stake, and so many different personalities packed into a small space, there is bound to be some drama. Without adults to guide them there is also a lot of self-doubt. Are they handling each crisis correctly? Will they be able to fend for themselves? The chapters spent on the ship kept me totally engaged in the plot, and I was reluctant to set the book aside. I wanted to know how Triana, the young leader of this group of kids, would handle the challenges tossed her way. How would she keep the peace between the crew, when even she has clashes with some of the members of the Council, the small group in charge of the mission? I thought these chapters were great, and started wishing that most of the action took place on the ship.
Which brings me to what I didn’t enjoy about The Comet’s Curse. There is a ton of set-up, and I found that the pacing for these chapters bogged the story down. Unbearably so, at first. We are spoon fed all of the background details behind the comet and the mission to save mankind, and I thought it was a little boring. I got that the virus was terrible and it attacked its victims in different ways, making it almost impossible to discover a cure. I got that Dr Zimmer, the man behind the Galahad mission, and Dr Scofield, his most ardent opponent, had vastly differing ideas about how to handle the very dire situation confronting every single human on the planet. The problem with these chapters were that we are told every tiny detail, but not in a compelling way. These sections were dry and failed to hold my attention.
Now that the set-up is over, though, I am looking forward to the next book. The teenaged characters are likeable and engaging, and I want to see how they handle all of the challenges that they are sure to face. What are they going to do, once they leave the solar system and lose contact with Earth? What are they going to do when they start to really get on each other’s nerves? I enjoyed the soap opera elements of the story, and I’m hoping for more interpersonal conflict as the series moves forward.
Review copy provided by publisher