Horizon by Scott Westerfeld
Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781743817605
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Science fiction, Survival, STEM. On a flight from the USA to Tokyo, eight teens on the plane are the only survivors when it crashes. But where they expect snow and ice, is jungle, with strange birds and even stranger noises. The eight must work together to work out what is happening to them, but this is difficult when the oldest in the group, Caleb, sees himself as the leader, and hates being questioned by the four from Brooklyn Science and Tech, en route to present their robots at the Robot Soccer World Championship in Tokyo. In particular Molly and he do not see eye to eye.
Yoshi goes off in search of water, while Molly experiments with the device she has found on the plane, something which appears to lift them off the ground. But once in the air they are attacked by shredder bird which tear into their clothing and skin, so they need to plan their journeys.
A wonderful story of methods used by the group to develop an hypothesis then work out a solution, this story is brimful of scientific argument and logic, as well as honing in on relationships and survival.
When some of the group leave to try and find out what its over the stone wall, the gravity machine comes in very handy to make their ascent easier. But hiding in a cave they are besieged by tiny robots, intent on stealing their mechanical objects. All is most curious until they find themselves inside a set of office like laboratories and they begin to work out where they are and what has happened, leading to an idea of how to get out.
This is a heart in the mouth story, Westerfeld cleverly leading the reader on making them try and work out what is happening, collecting evidence, using their reason to make deductions and hypotheses. But as they do not reach their destination at the end of this story, another story is in the pipeline. Westerfeld tells us that this is the first of seven books in the series, and is a mixture of Lost, Lord of the flies and Hatchet. This is easily accessible science fiction with the themes of survival and relationships uppermost putting the readers into the skin of the protagonists, drawing them into the lives on the page. I look forward to the next in the series.