by Diana Peterfreund
Review by Gayle Surrette
Balzer + Bray Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062310859
Date: 28 April 2015 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Gillian "Gills" Seagret and her brother Eric are settling into their new life. When their father lost his professorship, they moved to a very small house in the town where they used to spend their summers. Their mother divorced their father and they chose to live with their dad.
Their father now teaches a class once a week on conspiracy theories; he was an expert on Cold War conspiracies but he also researches and writes books about the subject. He's been writing and researching Dr. Aloysius Underberg, who was a famous inventor in their local area.
Gills often works with her dad, going over his papers and helping to keep the files straighten up and easy to find. Eric is embarrassed by his father's work and misses all the activities and perks that he used to have. But things might eventually have been okay, except that their dad now has a girlfriend, Fiona Smythe. Gills is very suspicious of her and thinks she might be just trying to get close to her father to steal his research.
When Gills finds a new piece of Underberg writing, she's determined to follow the clues to learn if Underberg actually built an underground city to house survivors of a nuclear war. She enlists the help of her best friend, Savannah, and the class nerd, Howard Noland, who is a whiz at science, and even Howard's big brother, Nate.
They set off to find the underground city and find themselves in danger from people dressed like ninjas in a black van who seem to want them dead. Can they find the city? Can they get out alive? Will they be able to prove that it exists? Will it really make a difference in their lives?
It's a rollicking adventure. The kids need each other to survive. While it seems like a ragtag bunch of misfits who don't fit in, they each have a talent or skill that will be necessary. The plotting is tight. The young people are well developed and act their age -- meaning they don't always do the smart thing, but they always do what you'd expect of a person of their age and background -- and that truly adds to the suspense.