Lilah Stellow is in trouble. Pills, inhalers, and surgeries are a part of her life—breathing has always been hard for her, but in the midst of a freak storm in upstate New York, she is stuck at her father’s cabin with her little sister, Flori. Her meds are gone, someone is watching the cabin, and her father has disappeared.
Her breathing abilities deteriorate to the point of causing her to black out; luckily, Daniel, the cute boy from town, appears and spirits her away to his mother’s top-secret research facility. As Lilah recovers, she and Daniel grow closer, but Lilah must get to the bottom of her own mysterious health history, no matter the cost. Readers will connect with the fully fleshed-out characters and will be fascinated by the complex family dynamics that Lilah and Daniel experience. This fast-paced story of bioterrorism, family relationships, trust, and secrets comes with a breathtaking conclusion that screams sequel.
Shari Becker's "The Stellow Project" is a thriller that grabs you from the first page. A teenager, Lilah, her best friend, and her little sister are driving away from a tornado that is threatening New York City. They are on their way to the cabin in the mountains on the instructions of Lilah's father.
They barely miss the tornado and finally make it to the cabin. Lilah is having trouble breathing because she was born with defective lungs, but she has enough medication to last until her father can join them. When he doesn't show up, and a mysterious green car is hanging around their uninhabited country road, things are getting weird. And then Lilah's father tells her to start withdrawing as much money as she can on the ATM card.
The first person narrative works well when Lilah begins to uncover inconsistencies in what she has always thought about her parents and what others remember. Even her younger sister argues with Lilah about their mother and her character traits. Is her father a good guy who has been trying to save her life, or is he something much more sinister?
The story is well done with lots of twists and turns. It's really hard to stop reading, so pick a time when you can spend hours starting and then finishing this story. It's a fairly quick read, and there's an ending of sorts, but readers will be anxious to know what happens in the next book in the series.
The book has something for everyone. Science fiction fans will enjoy some of the twists, action fans will love the chase scenes and danger, and romance fans will like her budding relationship with Daniel. The book also deals with the theme of climate change and asks some provocative questions about our ability to survive what we are facing in the future with a hotter world, more water, and other changes that we are probably not even aware of.
GR 8 UP—For Lilah Stellow, the act of breathing is often a Herculean task. As a result of her damaged lungs, her overprotective environmental scientist father has enforced climate-controlled spaces, experimental drugs, and invasive surgeries to keep her alive. But as a wild storm sweeps into New York City, even the best intentions fall flat, as everything in Lilah's perfectly ordered, safe life is swept up in the turmoil. Swoon-worthy romantic interest? Check. Secret research lab in the middle of the Adirondacks? Check. Eco-terrorism, betrayal, a crazy scene in which an SUV is almost blown off the road? Check, check, check. This speculative fiction/thriller is not only an intelligent pulse-racer, it's also a fun read. Though a read-alike for James Dashner's "The Maze Runner" series (Delacorte), its mystery and adventure are rooted in cool science. Becker keeps a riveting pace while developing a compelling backstory through flashbacks. She keeps readers engaged, but many will be frustrated by the cliff-hanger ending. Most of the characters are well drawn, complete with their foibles and unanswered questions, especially Lilah and her sister Flori. VERDICT A great addition to any dystopian collection that will appeal to fans of adventures and scientific thrillers, as well as reluctant readers.—Leighanne Law, Scriber Lake High School, WA
School Library Journal
A thrilling mystery with suspenseful moments . . . I would recommend this to anyone of 12 + who loves a suspenseful combo of simple romance and adventure and mystery.
YA Books Central