If Only
by Carol B. Allen
Metropolitan Publishing

"Now she was a woman. A woman who could lead. A woman who could change the world for the better. Not just on Spyridon. But at home, back on Earth."

Parker Kittridge returns for another awe-inspiring science fiction adventure in Allen’s final book in her Virago Trilogy. The story begins when Parker takes the train to Boston to visit MIT, where she becomes embroiled in a climate march, is kidnapped, finds the strength to save herself, and becomes destined to save the brilliant environmental activist Olivia Freiberg from capture. Parker and her newfound friends Henley and Edison warn Olivia of the impending danger. However, as they aim to thwart the kidnapper, they wind up on the planet Spyridon, where Parker, Edison, and Henley have previously solved scientific mysteries. Summoned and empowered to discover why new development in Spyridon’s Middleworld has released dangerous gases, the four science-savvy teens set to work. But in their discoveries, they learn of a betrayal that will result in a war, which threatens to destroy the planet. They must use scientific knowledge and navigate complex politics, tensions, and dangers to save Spyridon.

Providing a window into real-world issues, the author’s book expertly weaves fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and age-appropriate goals, such as autonomy, friendship, romance, and mastery. It reminds teens that within each person, there are virtues that will serve them well if they use them and remain strong. The story also portrays girls and women in active, agentic roles, inspiring hope in its female readership. Generally speaking, the book begs a younger, smarter generation to question what will happen if they let Earth go unchanged, fail to use scientific knowledge to their advantage, and neglect to advocate for climate change. Allen’s inspiring book is a great read for young adults and could easily be used effectively in a classroom setting.

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