Crater Lake Evolution is scarily exhilarating and utterly engrossing: the perfect blend of sci-fi horror, suspense and humour that had me holding my breath one minute and laughing out loud the next as I was taken on an action-packed thrill-ride of an adventure.
Five months have passed since Lance and his friends have returned from their Year 6 residential to Crater Lake where they fought, and won, against an alien invasion. This story is told in the first book in this series, Crater Lake. In that time, they have moved to high school and grown apart. Lance has a new friend, Karim, who has moved to Straybridge with his parents.
When there is an explosion at the University, the residents are informed that a test subject from a research project has escaped, and the town is locked down with a curfew put in place to protect the townspeople. This all seems perfectly believable, but then, Lance’s Mum starts behaving strangely …
Could Lance’s nightmares have become a reality? Could Straybridge’s Christmas traditions give an old enemy a chance to invade? When I am scared in a movie, but desperate to still know what is going on, I cover my eyes with splayed fingers and glance through. If it were possible to read a book in this way, then there were certainly moments I would have done this … The subtlety with which the creepiness and tension is built up is superbly conveyed and had my heart-pounding as Lance makes connections and fights against the pervading danger threatening Staybridge.
Even though his friendships have been fractured following the transition to secondary school, Lance has no hesitation in seeking help from his old friends from Year 6, Katja, Chets, Mak and Ade as well as his new friend Karim. He soon finds himself reunited with his friends who are all willing to help Lance fight for survival against an enemy out of their nightmares, and at the same time, resolve some of the issues that separate them. Will they be able to save each other, and their town? I loved that, despite them growing apart and having friendship difficulties in their transition to secondary school, they have a lasting bond from primary that immediately kicks in when Lance needs help. I also really enjoyed the sparky, teasing and chatty interactions between the friends which is so superbly written. The friends are brave, gutsy and determined and make a formidable team when faced with a threat to their town.
The horror elements are absolutely out-of-this-world: thrilling, scary and exciting with knife-edge tension and a stifling, creepy, unnerving atmosphere. I don’t want to say too much about the plot for fear of spoilers, but there are definitely moments in this book that sent a shiver down my spine, that made me gasp and left me in need of a manicure! I am so glad that I had such a wonderful cast of characters to lead me through these moments with humour and courage.
Crater Lane Evolution is an absolute triumph of a story brimming with just the right amount of scariness, nail-biting suspense and humour that is sure to keep older children captivated, delighted and ever-so-slightly freaked-out.
Thank you to Fritha Lindqvist and Firefly Press for a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.