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Friday, December 15, 2017

REVIEW: Crash Course #1 (Project Terra)


A whole universe of animated entertainment came into my life when Cartoon Network became a part of our basic cable package. Everyone remembers Dexter’s Lab and The Powerpuff Girls. But even I barely remember the obscure series called I Am Weasel. A spin-off of the slightly more memorable Cow and Chicken, there is only one episode of I Am Weasel that sticks in my memory: the titular weasel went to space and transformed the environment into a habitable new world in a process called terraforming. I thought this was a totally impossibly imaginary science fiction concept. Today, terraforming is the subject of a new middle-grade series that sees students from across the galaxy learning the art of this bizarre science at a super cool boarding school. Check out my review of Project Terra: Crash Course after the jump.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Crash Course #1 (Project Terra) courtesy of Penguin Random House. Opinions are my own.

For eleven-year-old Elara, life at the Academy of Terraforming Arts is a lot tougher--and stranger--than she expected. Her latest experiment accidentally blew up the moon. Her roommate, Clare, is a mute intergalactic sponge. And no one at her new school knows what it's like to grow up on a planet called "Nowhere." But if the greatest Planetary Designers in the galaxy made it through their first year, then so can she.

Comic book writer Landry Q. Walker (The Incredibles, Batman) takes us on an interplanetary adventure as we follow Elara Adele Vaughn of the farming planet Vega Antilles V through her first year at the Seven Systems School of Terraforming. Elara’s dream is to study bioengineering and become terraformer. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies and eventually uncovers a plot against her that could lead to a fate much worse than a failing grade.

Elara is a dark-skinned human who befriends a colorful cast of aliens as her first year at the School of Terraforming begins. Her roommates include Beezle, a blue-skinned alien who is part of a hive mind, and Clare, a large yellow sponge that can hardly be called a character at all and yet is somehow my favorite character in the whole book. Across the hall from these three is Knot, a giant girl made of stone. The only male member of this friend group is the snobby four-armed Sabik, who befriends Elara after she saves him from a spider-kitten. Elara, Beezle, and Knot bond after accidentally creating a star - an impressive, yet destructive feat that lands them in a special class for more creative students.

If you think this sounds a bit like “Harry Potter in Space” then you’re pretty spot on. It doesn’t take long for Elara and her friends to realize something isn’t quite right at the Seven Systems School of Terraforming. Teachers keep disappearing and the ones who stick around seem to have it out for Elara. As the group investigates just what is going on, Elara and her friends discover a plot much bigger than any of them.

Elara’s adventure is a fun one that sees er discovering new species of flora and fauna in spectacular environments. The glimpses we get of their daily lives provide an interesting vision of the future. The book also does its job at getting young girls interested in STEM fields and has successfully made me believe in the strange science I first saw being performed by a cartoon weasel.



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