Hero and Riven ( The Hero Rebellion series), by Belinda Crawford

Long ago, in a galaxy far away … humans attempted to colonise Jorn’s surface but discovered it to be dangerous. So they built the towers of Cumulus City hovering high above the toxic pollen. And they somehow also discovered the secret of triple-coated marshmallow ice-cream and scrapple-cherry tarts .. But I digress.

Hero Regan has been treated as ‘special’ all her life by her mother. She’s tired of it. It’s not as though she’s dangerous just because of voices in her head, is it? And with Fink, her telepathic 600 kilogram companion to protect her, she’s hardly likely to be harmed by others – surely.

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Scotland The Brave: “Look, Sam, there’s a loyal ruc-pard in the story. He’s brave. Like Me. ” Samantha: “I want my own flying adder, like my little Dino but a racer, winged and fast!”

If she could one day work ground-side on the planet she could live on her own terms, but to do that she’d have to show her mettle by winning illegal, dangerous barrier races. Her strict mother, is she found out about such races, would send Fink to the dreaded Farm from where he might not return. Anyway you can’t race without a team, and for a team you need to have at least one friend in your life. Then Hero meets Norah, also on the outer due to her own ‘specialness’, and her adder companion, Horace. They’re experienced racers. Hero grabs the chance.

This exciting science fiction tale throws you into an imaginatively well-constructed and plausible world without miring you in technical descriptions. After a line or two to give you each new idea, you’re off again, racing among the sky-towers and hoping there are no blue-outs, dodging the minders (just who are they working for?), avoiding hostile cliques at the school, arguing with parents, getting frustrated with the canny Librarian, and hoping against hope Fink can fight off the giant roaches. Along the way we also look at possibilities that genetic engineering could well give rise to: what choices will humanity one day, or even now, consider ‘good’, and how much of it could turn out to be disastrous instead.

That said, I really want a ruc-pard of my own.

I won’t say much here about Riven for fear of spoilers for those reading Hero; suffice that once you have raced to the end of Hero you are going to want to read Riven too.

Hero and Riven are published by Odyssey Books, a great source of sci-fit, fantasy, YA and more, including illustrated books, memoirs and poetry.

Where to find the Hero Rebellion Series by Belinda Crawford : at BookDepository , at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at every self respecting sci-fi and fantasy bookshop. The third in the series, Regan, The Hero Rebellion is also out now.

You are at Baffled Bear Books, the blog of Mark chocolate-fetcher and hapless typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears. Mawson is writer bear of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In.