Everyone has always considered Eleanor a bit odd. She has a daredevil streak that often gets her into hot water. While her mother, climatologist Dr. Perry, struggles to understand her, she accepts that Eleanor will always be full of surprises. Dr. Perry simply blames the anonymous “donor” who is Eleanor’s unknown father. The only person who seems to “get” Eleanor is Dr. Perry’s brother, Uncle Jack. Uncle Jack lives with Eleanor and her mother, taking care of Eleanor when Dr. Perry travels north to study the glacier that is edging its way to the equator.
Living in Phoenix with thousands of refugees from the frozen North, Eleanor has grown accustomed to these absences, though she does not like them. All climatologists working with GET, the Earth’s primary supplier of energy, desperately want to discover a way to provide heat for the world’s population. Dr. Perry is no exception. When she sends cryptic messages to Eleanor on her “Sync” with instructions to keep them secret, Eleanor begins to worry. Her concerns are confirmed when her mother disappears, and GET suddenly wants to confiscate the “Sync”. Unable to trust anyone, even Uncle Jack, Eleanor slips out of the house at night and stows away on a plane headed for Alaska. She has no plan as to how she will search for her mother once she arrives in the Arctic and quickly learns that without the help of adults, she will not survive.
The Dark Gravity Sequence begins as a simple conflict between well-intentioned, sincere scientists and an energy conglomerate backed by the UN. Propaganda about the causes of climate change keeps the world under control – until those scientists uncover the “truth”. From the reader’s vantage the conspiracy theory is much more plausible than the “truth” GET is trying to hide. As a result, the book’s plot takes a turn for the absurd, pushing the limits of credibility even for a children’s story. Kirby seems to have a propensity for pre-historic animals, particularly mastodons which appear here as they did in his book The Lost Kingdom.
Eleanor’s familial relationships and personality are worth noting. She loves and is fiercely loyal to her mother whose responsibilities often take her away from home. Uncle Jack serves as a father figure for this pre-teen who clearly craves stability. Intelligent and impulsive, Eleanor is a magnet for trouble. Dr. Perry jokes about the fertility clinic donor who is Eleanor’s father. When Eleanor demonstrates the ability to communicate with alien technology, however, the question arises as to who this donor is and where the author intends to go with this series.
A former teacher, Jennifer Minicus is a full-time wife and mother living in Ridgewood, NJ.