Crater Lake Evolution is the second part to the Crater Lake trilogy. And while you get a brief overview of what you missed if you haven’t read Book One, I highly recommend reading that first. If nothing else, it will help you understand the friendship dynamics of the main characters and prepare you for how dark this book gets. Jennifer Killick is brilliant at making a relatable bunch of characters. You can imagine being their friend or enemy and as an educator you will recognise these characters amongst children you have taught.
The first chapter hooks you in straight away. Lance and Chet chat as they play together on an online games console. They are missing their friends and reminisce about their time battling aliens over the summer. We get the sense that the friends aren’t as close as they once had been and that the rest of the group also seem to be growing apart. Suddenly, their houses shake as an apocalyptic explosion goes off in the distance and they realise strange things are happening once more. Lots of authors write excellent cliffhangers that build up so much suspense. But in Crater Lake Evolution, it is expertly done, making it impossible to stop after reading just one chapter.
In this sequel, there’s a curfew in place, no access to the internet and Miss Hoche is back! But this time the strange creatures (sporelings) are a bit more inconspicuous. It’s hard to tell where they fall in the hierarchy of their life form or whether or not someone has been infected and turned into a sporeling. New character Karim also makes an excellent addition to the gang of heroes.
This book is much creepier than the first. With their parents also infected and being in their own homes this time, this feels like a situation you can actually imagine yourself being in. And for that reason it’s all the more terrifying. I can’t finish this review without mentioning the humour. Crater Lake Evolution is littered with humour that is typical of Killick and so relatable to children. I love seeing this sci fi story through Lance’s eyes. Even in the most terrifyingly tightest spots, Lance seems to have a humorous take on the situation. ‘I shove Karim after her and I take the rear, getting a view of Karim’s butt that I never really needed in my life.’ As a class read aloud this book is guaranteed to have your children hooked and in fits of laughter. Best suited for year 5 upwards.
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