I honestly didn’t know that Middle Grade science fiction thrillers were a thing until I started “Frozen Secrets”, which follows young Max in a futuristic setting where the nations of the world are colonizing space. Max has a knack for trouble as any burgeoning teenager would, especially as Max really loves adventure and really wants to be a super-spy. He’s often the ring-leader with his friends, getting them to go along with his exploits, because if Max smells something even vaguely like a conspiracy or a new place to explore, this young man is going to insert himself into it, consequences be damned! It’s a very endearing story, and I think MOST actual middle grade readers will enjoy it.
This was a fun, quick book that is equal parts spy thriller in space, and also coming of age as Max adjusts to a new galactic school off of Earth. We see his interactions with his friends and his first crushes, and his playful manner just as much as we see him trying to figure out who may have sabotaged his shuttle and following those clues down a rabbit hole of dangerous cover ups, conspiracies, and secret organizations. The non-thriller parts could feel a bit slow at times, but I didn’t mind them too much and thought they did a good job setting up Max and his core group of friends, as he does have several. But I did really enjoy the thriller aspects the most and liked watching these kids really consider who may be behind something, and if they were going to follow up on executing an idea, what was the best plan of action. It was refreshing for an MG read where the kids actually do consider options to follow besides just flying by the seat of their pants, even if trouble likes to follow Max wherever he goes no matter how careful he tries to be.
Christensen really went all out with the science in this one. You can tell the author put a lot of care and research into how things would function in space and the science behind the travel. Unfortunately, sometimes the terminology gets used so casually in conversation by these space kids (which does make sense for them to use!) that it may be hard for younger readers to follow. So just keep that in mind. But Max is a fun kid to root for, he may get his friends into trouble a lot but he’s not mean at all and he’s a great brother, so I enjoyed him quite a bit as a main character. The one thing I personally had trouble with, and that may be because I am an actual adult, is the fact that when these kids did get into very serious trouble, and not always because they were doing something they shouldn’t have been either, the adults were very quick to punish them rather than, I don’t know, just be happy their kids were ok? But that may just be me though.
I’m not the biggest MG reader, but I had fun with this one. I do worry that some of the terms may be a bit difficult for middle grade readers who aren’t big into hard(ish) science fiction, and a lot of the parents and adults’ reactions to serious things happening to their kids bothered me personally, but younger readers may connect to that aspect a lot more. But that’s ultimately why I’m giving this book 4 stars. It’d make a great book for MG fans who like thrilling chases in space—both literal and figurative—science fiction, and boys and girls working together to bring down the bad guys. And thanks to the author for sending me a copy for an honest review!
Click the book images to see them on Amazon!