An outcast teenage boy, an imprisoned father and a loyal best friend who happens to be a pretty blonde all seem like relatively normal components for a teen novel—unless, of course, the boy lives on Mars and is hired by the unscrupulous to rescue kidnapped children.

Meet Durango, a teen mercenary eking out a meager existence on the dry, red planet. Often attempting dangerous stunts, he risks his life and that of his pretty partner, Vienne, in order to earn enough money to eat. His only guide is Mimi, an Artificial Intelligence imprinted in his brain, but even she can’t keep him out of trouble. While he’s battle-school-trained and quick with a weapon, he and Vienne are outcasts, easily exploited and discarded by those who hire him. With his father in prison and desperate for bribe money, he agrees to help a group of impoverished miners whose children are being stolen by a villainess and her cannibalistic minions. Against lousy odds, Durango leads a crew of inexperienced soldiers into the biggest fight of their lives.

Readers will anxiously follow Durango’s escapades, which alternate between his first-person narration and third-person point of view. From his escape into a cosmic elevator to his battles against the cannibals, Durango is a sympathetic hired gun with something to prove to both his father and himself. Even on Mars, an adolescent boy still strives for his father’s approval and his peers’ acceptance. And as Durango suppresses his romantic feelings for Vienne, he also matures into a man with a lot to lose.

Despite the fact that alien cannibals are stealing children and eating them, this book is far from morose. Its humorous dialogue and motley crew of characters give this science fiction a theatrical quality that one could easily imagine on the big screen. Named after a popular song by the rock band Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun is a gritty blend of suspense, action, humor and romance that’s sure to engage even the most reluctant reader.

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