Flying, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Flying, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Cheerleader battles aliens in breezy action comedy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Flying is a far-fetched sci-fi action comedy, not at all rigorous on the science side. It does, however, address issues of how to develop self-reliance while still trusting the advice of friends.

Positive Messages

The personal and professional lives of your parents may be more complicated than you think. Learning to depend on your own skills, rather than those of others, is a worthwhile pursuit.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mana, the 17-year-old protagonist of Flying, thinks she knows everything about her unassuming mom's life, but she has to change her mind when her mother disappears under extremely mysterious circumstances. Brave and resourceful, Mana is lucky to have devoted friends on whom she can depend. Her best friend Lyle is especially supportive and helpful.

Violence

The level of violence in Flying is fairly low. A disguised alien spits acid. There's some gunplay, and an attacker is shot in the foot. A teen loses her grip on a man dangling from a roof and is horrified when he falls.

Sex

Mana does a lot of thinking and talking about the boys she's attracted to, but there's little physical expression of her feelings toward them. She and a friend eventually share a passionate kiss, but things do not progress much further. After Mana and Lyle spend a night alone in his room, his mother assumes he and Mana slept together.

Language

There's not a lot of swearing in Flying. Words such as "d--k" and "s--t" are used once or twice, "hell" and "damn" a little more frequently.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Flying is the start of a new science fiction series by Carrie Jones, author of Need, about a small-town cheerleader whose mother is revealed to be an alien hunter. It combines action, comedy, and romance and is narrated in a breezy, accessible tone. There's plenty of action, but it's not particularly violent. (There's gunplay, and a villain falls from a roof.) There's a small amount of swearing ("d--k," "s--t," "hell," and "damn"), and the sexual content is limited to flirting and a couple of passionate embraces.

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What's the story?

At the start of FLYING, 17-year-old cheerleader Mana is used to being coddled by her friends and family, but everything changes for her on the night when the guy she's attracted to flips out and starts spitting neon-green acid. Worse, Mana returns home to find the place trashed and her mother missing. A mysterious government agent claims to be her frumpy mom's partner in alien hunting and tells Mana that he's searching for a piece of technology that might either save the world or destroy it. To navigate the trail of secrets surrounding her family, Mana must rely on her own developing instincts, her new ability to jump to incredible heights, and the support of her best friend, Lyle, a boy for whom she's beginning to have romantic feelings.

Is it any good?

Author Carrie Jones finds an accessibly breezy tone for her narration and concocts a sci-fi adventure that offers plenty of fun, even if its plot is not particularly groundbreaking. Mixing comedy and action is a delicate balance, and this combination of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Men in Black expertly straddles genres. Main character Mana develops her sense of self-reliance as she searches for her kidnapped mother, and her transition from coddled cheerleader to tough alien-hunter is fun to witness.

The romantic subplot is handled with aplomb, even if the clever banter seems a little forced at times. All in all, the series is off to a flying start.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why science fiction is so popular. What's so appealing about alien stories?

  • What do you think of how Flying combines elements of comedy and drama? Does it achieve a good, entertaining balance? 

  • In Flying, Mana learns that her parents have secret lives. Why do parents hide some facts from their children? When is secret-keeping harmful?

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