This is the time. The time is now. Michael Carroll's Quantum Prophecy series has zipped beneath the radar like a low-flying caped crusader for far too long.
The Quantum Prophecy trilogy describes a world in which superheroes and supervillains were once a natural part of the world order, keeping the peace, trying to take over the world, doing their stuff. But ten years ago, one supervillain's dastardly plan went tragically awry, and all the superhumans disappeared. Now, a few young people are beginning to exhibit unusual abilities - only to discover that a world of peril and plots has been waiting for them. Dun dun DUNNN!
This is so definitely for those middle grade readers who have developed a taste for the go-go pace of Percy Jackson, for exciting, action-movie-esque books like the Alex Rider series and Margaret Peterson Haddix's books. (Also recommended for action junkies: Young Bond and Gordon Korman's adventure series: On The Run, Kidnapped, Island.).
So why do I have such trouble foisting these fun books, with their snappy dialogue and incidental musings on duty and conscience, on young readers? I frankly blame the covers. The silver-framed misty tonal paintings read 'outer space,' and give no indication that there are children inside. They are somehow too subtle, too bland, too generic, and too adult, all at the same time. Like, I never knew what Farscape was about, because my mental image was all swirling cosmic dust and some kind of gate item, and no faces of people. These covers remind me of that.
Maybe it's also the titles. In the UK, this series is called New Heroes. "New Heroes"! I know what that means! "Quantum Prophecy"... errr. Will there be a mad scientist involved? Physics? Please don't tell me there will be physics. And the individual books are saddled with generic, ominous one-word titles: The Awakening. The Gathering. The Reckoning. I was so worried that the followup book would be Quantum Prophecy: The Debriefing.
BUT NO! Thank Tony Stark, Michael Carroll has followed the Gerund Trilogy with a prequel, and this time the book has a supercharged title and an extremely YA-looking cover to match the fast and funny and heartfelt action within. Finally! THIS book I can hand to a nine-year-old, whose face will light up with interest even as his ma begins to squint dubiously at it. That's a combination I can work with - moms are a lot easier to convince than boys. (Hey and guess what? That's a GIRL under that vaguely Japanese-looking armor on the cover, carrying a sword that resembles a four-foot cleaver. LOVE her!)
And then I can get those kids to go back and read the three previous books.