What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Be My Enemy is the sequel to Planesrunner, the gripping sci-fi adventure that introduced readers to Everett Singh and the Infundibulum, a much-sought-after map of the far-reaching multiverse. As in the first book, Everett and his allies -- the quirky crew of the airship Everness -- face constant danger and violence throughout the story. Humans, monstrous creatures, and technology-based enemies all pose serious threats; a significant character dies, and there's some very disturbing imagery related to the Nahn, a nanotech intelligence that has decimated one of the book's key worlds. Everett remains a steadfast friend and son, and the series' messages about the importance of family and loyalty continue in this installment, albeit within a fairly bleak setting. Expect a bit of salty language and some flirting, but the peril/violence is the main issue here.
What's the story?
BE MY ENEMY picks up right where Planesrunner -- the first book in Ian McDonald's Everness series -- left off. After using the powerful jumpgun to escape their enemies, Everett Singh and his crew/foster family on the airship Everness have randomly leapt to a universe in which Earth is a frigid, forbidding place. As Everett races to figure out how to use the jumpgun and the Infundibulum (the map of the entire multiverse that his enemies are desperate to possess) to trace his missing father and help his friends find a safer haven, new threats force the allies to relocate to Earth 1 -- the mysterious, long-quarantined universe that offers both answers and deadly peril. Meanwhile, Everett's enemies are developing a powerful new weapon in their quest to capture him and the Infundibulum ... a weapon that looks very familiar.
Is it any good?
Offering a mix of fast-paced, engrossing action and thought-provoking sci-fi, Be My Enemy is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, Planesrunner. Everett remains a sympathetic character whose motivations are always well intentioned. And his relationships with the Everness crew -- particularly spunky Sen and dashing Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth -- continue to deepen in this installment, driving the stakes even higher.
Things get pretty intense when the action shifts to Earth 1 -- the destructive Nahn are creepy and unnerving; as an extreme example of the dangers of technology "innovation" left unchecked, they're a very effective cautionary tale. As the second book in a planned trilogy, Be My Enemy suffers a little bit from middle-book-itis -- nothing is really wrapped up, and readers will be left champing at the bit to find out what happens next -- but it's a thoroughly entertaining adventure that will have a strong appeal for readers interested in real/hard science, as well as those who just like a good yarn.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the idea that there's an infinite number of parallel universes. Does the notion that there might be multiple copies/versions of you and your family spread across the cosmos intrigue or unnerve you?
How is Everett changing over the course of the series? What are his challenges teaching him? How do his relationships with the other characters shift? Do you consider him a role model?
The Everness series includes a fair bit of science background/information. Does that make it more or less interesting? How could you find out more about the theories that it explores?