Quantum Prophecy 1: The Awakening by Michael Carroll; published by Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2006; 264 pages.
Colin and Danny are neighbors, classmates and friends. On the eve of Mystery Day, Danny miraculously saves a friend’s little sister from imminent disaster. Could he have superhero powers? When Colin’s family’s annual Mystery Day party wraps up, Colin walks Danny home and Danny shares a secret: he does have superhuman abilities. Mystery Day is a holiday celebrated all over the world, a memorial to an epic battle when superheroes and supervillains fought and no one won; in fact, they all disappeared. Ten years later, Danny learns that he is the son of Quantum, a superhero with the powers of prophecy. Colin is jealous of his friend’s powers, but discovers he has powers of his own—and a pair of superhero parents. Because their powers were lost on the original Mystery Day, the adults are helpless to stop an evil plot to usurp Danny’s and Colin’s powers to create a single, superhuman supervillain. Working together, the children and adults foil the evil plan, at least for now. As the book ends, we are left to wonder if Quantum’s original prophecy for Danny will yet come to pass: Will he lead an evil army of destruction? Only the rest of the books in the series can answer that question!
One thought kept me from giving this book a higher quality rating: Carroll has morphed X-Men with The Incredibles to capitalize on the popularity of both. I mean, really, Energy’s eyes turn white as she unleashes lightning? How very much like Storm, from X-Men! And, come on, children left in the dark about their parents’ superhero past? Disney/Pixar covered that in The Incredibles. Most young adults will recognize the mashup.
Does it work? I can see the attraction for tweens—superhero kids saving the planet from evil forces. On a superficial level, I found the plot interesting as Carroll let it unfold slowly and deliberately. This isn’t great literature, but not all books have to be. We all look for an opportunity to be entertained, to step into a world that’s not our own for a little vacation from reality. In light of that, this would make a good series to recommend as summer reading for the middle school crowd or for reluctant readers (especially boys). And that could explain the inclusion in the 2009 Popular Paperbacks list.
4P 3Q Grade Level: 5-8
Cover Art: The orange and grey color scheme, along with the sci-fi images, should appeal to the middle school crowd. The spine, with dark grey type on a light grey background, was difficult to read, although the orange image from the cover may attract attention.
From Reading List: 2009 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Spies and Intrigue List