The Shifter’s Trail Book Review
by Minul Asgar
Novelist Adam Alexander really switches things around by combining science fiction and math in his new book, The Shifter’s Trail; a text written for teens. I must say when I first heard of Mr. Alexander’s choice of genre I was a bit surprised and skeptical about how much science, fiction and math can be intertwined.
The book revolves around three main characters, Andromeda Brown, Mhairi MacPherson, and DeMarcus Reeves. This trio is faced with a cruel and very heavy responsibility; to save the human race from aliens named the “Kulradas.” The Kulradas not only want to wipe out the entire human race but intend to kill us by eating us alive.
To do so, they must gain information from the “Scitelas” who are shape shifters that collect data their whole lives which can be century’s worth of information. Unfortunately, a Scitela had been living amongst humans this entire time which means that the Kulrada’s can’t be too far.
When the trio becomes acquainted with the Grrrmmbls, a separate species of alien that wish humans no harm, they learn of the horrid objectives of the Kulrada’s. The trio’s task is to find the Kulrada’s on Earth and somehow prevent them from completing their objective. Mr. Alexander does a great job leaving the audience in suspense during the end of his chapters throughout the reading of this book. I may be a bit biased because I just started to “experience” reading as a whole in these past couple of months, but I digress.
While reading the text, I was reminded of various things.
I found peculiar how each chapter had a mathematical formula beneath it. Reading further, I learned that these formulas connected with the situations that occurred in each chapter. I didn’t understand what the random math problems in the chapters had to do with anything, but I assumed they were to develop Andromeda’s precision with math.
This reminded me of a cartoon show I used to watch on PBS as a kid in elementary school called CyberChase. This show would concentrate on how math could be used in various strategies. They would also include a segment called CyberChase: For Real, where they would show a real life situation that could have been solved with math. Pretty neat, now that I think about it.
All of the alien mumbo-jumbo stuff in Shifter’s Trail, reminded me of another series of books I’d previously read in elementary school called The Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. In Applegate’s series, aliens also lived amongst humans and a certain set of kids were chosen to help save the Earth from these aliens. The basic plot lines are similar but are not entirely the same.
Lastly, something else I noticed while reading was how, because the technology of the Grrrmmbls was outdated, DeMarcus nicknamed it “Toad Tech,” in reference to the toad-like features of the Grrrmmbls. I found this phrase humorous because when we think of aliens, we usually think of these outer space, balloon-headed creatures that abduct people and are so technologically advanced, according to what is portrayed in movies & television shows.
I started off thinking this book was a bit too one sided, but as I got through it chapter by chapter, I realized that I should give this genre a chance. Much to my surprise, I ended up liking the book.
Mr. Alexander has just released The Shifter’s Trail, and I hope that, like me, you will give this novel a try. Your time spent in this authors imagination might end well, or it might end up being a disaster but you’ll never know if you don’t read the book for yourself.