Starting with a shuttle explosion that we quickly learn was no accident, the story fast forwards one year in Phoebe’s life. She is hiding the fact that she was orphaned the day of the explosion. This dystopian future is not kind to orphans, so Phoebe’s been faking her way through with the help of her robot, Max. Mr. Craven, the diabolical CEO who was responsible for the explosion, learns that Phoebe’s parents sent her something just before their deaths. Desperate to keep his secrets, Mr. Craven tracks Phoebe down and alerts the authorities to her parentless status. She is shipped off to a disturbing institution where she is known only by a number and lives in a giant warehouse with hundreds of other kids. Phoebe soon discovers the kids of the other scientists on her parents’ shuttle and learns that there is definitely a mystery needing to be solves. They decide to team up, calling themselves the Silver Six.
Phoebe’s character is presented in a very kid-friendly way, showing the independence and resourcefulness that kids love to read about. She is plucky, loyal, and very smart, making her the perfect threat to the evil corporation. The plot resonates with the world of today. Phoebe’s world is dependent on a fuel, Hydro-2, that forces them to live in domes stacked practically on top of each other. The book does a nice job of getting an environmentally friendly message out without getting overly preachy. I also appreciated the diversity of the team, though Phoebe is a corn-fed blonde.
The illustrations are solid and depict an interesting future world, though I think it will look better in the final version of the book which should be entirely in color. (My advanced copy switches to grayscale on page 29.) I like the stark contrasts between different places, which adds nicely to the tone and plot. The varying level of detail in each panel also helps the eye focus on what is most important, leading readers down the story’s path without their even realizing it.
The Silver Six is a fairly straightforward, action-packed, science fiction book. It relies on a fast moving plot without too much character development, but it will be relatable for a large number of kids. After all, what kid doesn’t want to be the one who attempts to save themselves, their friends, and, ultimately, the world?