Saturday, June 12, 2021

The World's Greatest Adventure Machine

The World's Greatest Adventure Machine
by Frank L. Cole
Recommended Ages: 11+

Four kids out of millions just won the opportunity to be the first passengers on the thrill ride of the future: a high-tech roller coaster that taps into their minds to incorporate what they're scared of into a shared experience. Is it all done with high-definition special effects? Or are the monsters, meteors, volcanos and villains as real as they look, sound, smell and even feel? That's the question facing Trevor, Nika, Cameron and Devin when they find themselves on a ride that has spun dangerously out of control.

They're certainly a special group of kids. They couldn't have been picked better for the task – which is one thing that raises their suspicions. Maybe they weren't brought together at random. Maybe there's a reason the Castleton brothers of Beyond, California picked Devin, who has flashes of insight into the future but isn't sure he wants to be a social media superstar; Cameron, a hyperactive genius who sometimes has to take his clothes off and write math equations on the wall; Nika, whose insensitivity to pain is only half of the reason her rich, Russian grandfather is so protective of her; and Trevor, who has a short circuit in his brain that makes him incapable of feeling fear, and who is therefore getting into constant danger and trouble. As the kids make their way through an apparently malfunctioning ride, pursued by terrifying creatures seemingly grown in a lab just to chase them, they receive disturbing messages from someone within the company that lead them to suspect that they've been brought together for a purpose, and it isn't about mass entertainment.

The question becomes: Whom can they trust? But the Adventure Machine is cleverly designed to call even their sensory experiences into doubt. So the answer comes down to "nobody but each other" as the kids survive thrills, chills and spills that beggar belief – from being chased by a meat cleaver-wielding maniac to swinging over a pit on live electric wires. Their adventure will leave them, and you, questioning what is and isn't real, and its fast-paced, life-or-death excitement will create a bond of friendship between misfits and strangers that will warm the reader's heart. They're fun characters to share the ultimate adventure with, and the blend of high-tech fantasy, paranoia, horror and kid-friendly fun makes the whole book an impressive experience.

Frank L. Cole is also the author of The Afterlife Academy, four "Hasbrown Winters" adventures, three "Guardians" novels and three "Potion Masters" novels, all apparently written for kids. His latest book, scheduled for release in August 2021, is The Die of Destiny, purported to be the first installment of a series called "Champion's Quest."

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