Score: 92/100 (9.2 out of 10)
The Mines of Jedira is a thrilling and captivating sci-fi novel by Cal Davis! It is the second in a series that began with The Jediran Quest, continuing a series that focuses on a young man wrapped up in humankind's valiant attempts to colonize space. This is a solid YA novel that doesn't just run, it flies!
The Mines of Jedira follows a young man named Braven, one of the brave survivors of the events of The Jediran Quest. Those tragic and harrowing events continue to haunt him and his colony mates. Braven and his parents find themselves visiting the small and mysterious Zeta Colony, one of the newer colonies that specializes in mining rare minerals using both manual and robotic labor.
Braven quickly notices that something is amiss when he sees a large, black shadow pass him, appearing to be the shadow of a large creature. They soon discover tracks of a creature over 9 meters in length, appearing to be phalanges. Braven and his new friend, Skylar, begin to suspect that they may be in the vicinity of a mythical creature known as a caprodome, a man-eating beast similar to a dragon.
Things escalate to a fever pitch when two kids go missing from the colony. A chaotic flurry of bad news spreads regarding the incident as there are rumors of storms, monsters, death, and more missing people.
There's suspicious, unscrupulous dealings afoot, a lot of which deals with the mines believed to be home to this light-deterred creature.
This book takes up almost a Kaiju-esque vibe, in stark contrast to the previous book which focused more on microorganisms like bacteria. Yes, this is a MONSTER story and we love it for that.
This book almost seemed like a combination of several books we read this season. For example, The Windy City Terror similarly featured a lab-bred monster that lurks the ground below. Endgame on Lunar One and Diary of a Martian similarly explored life inside and outside the boundaries of a space colony. One story in Tales of Monstrosity featured a monster called the Jersey Devil that was a lot like the caprodome in this book.
This book does one thing exceptionally well: the world-building! This book does a great job at fleshing out both the main planet of the book and the universe full of other colonies. For example, the moon is constantly referenced both as a measure of time (like when Braven doesn't want to get out of bed) and of distance (like when Braven is running/limping for his life). There are exotic minerals found in this colony found nowhere on Earth. Eden (another planet) is also referenced. There are even databoards which act like smartphones or Ipads.
One of the most interesting concepts in this book is that different people are able to communicate using universal-translator-like technology. One of the characters (Mesilia, if we remembered correctly) is physically unable to create speech, but she is able to let her thoughts be known using this technology.
Furthermore, the details and the world-building don't bog down the pacing of the story like they sometimes do in other books. Instead, this book flies by! You can get through this book in one or two sittings if you really wanted to. The pages go flying. If anything, the details and world-building just elevate the rest of the content.
There is also a rather interesting human subplot involving Braven and his new friend, Skylar. Braven adopts almost a big-brother-like role in looking after Skylar. Their relationship is similar to Katniss and Rue in The Hunger Games. At the same time, we didn't really connect with Skylar as much as we connected with Khara in the previous book. We missed Khara.
One last thing we appreciated is that you can tell that the course of this book takes a physical and emotional toll on Braven. He takes a beating in this book (as protagonists should). There are times when he's injured and can hardly walk or run! That just makes it more dramatic and tense!
Anyway, this book is really great for its target audience.
Check it out on Amazon!