Kellee’s ALAN Panel: Keeping ‘Em on the Edge of Their Seats with Michael Buckley, Roland Smith, and C. Taylor-Butler




In addition to my NCTE sessions about Bridging the Gender Gap with humor and the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award, I am also moderating an action/adventure panel during the 2015 ALAN Workshop! During the panel, we’ll be touching on how to add suspense to novels, writing techniques when writing action/adventure, characterization vs. plot in action/adventure novels, and how to keep an action story fresh through a series.

I am looking forward to presenting with these authors, and I wanted to take a day to share their wonderful (and action-packed!) books with you all.


Author: Michael Buckley
Published May 5th, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 and The Outsiders.

My Review: What a unique book! I was intrigued with the whole concept from the very beginning, and I had to know what was going to happen to the characters. Mer-people have begun living on the beaches of Coney Island, and Americans, instead of trying to understand, have fought and banished them; however, as Undertow starts, we learn they are trying to integrate the schools. Lyric is our protagonist and has a secret that makes this integration dangerous for her. Her adventure through Undertow definitely held my attention! Although Buckley built an entire new mythology of merpeople within the book, the characters and plot are strong enough to make the mythology seem seamlessly part of the world Buckley has created. Lyric is quite an interesting character, but the more you learn about her, the more it makes sense. I also found the integration aspect of the novel a bit reminiscent of school integration in the 60’s and would love to know if that is what Buckley intended.

the edge

Peak: The Edge
Author: Roland Smith
Published October 6th, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: The International Peace Ascent is the brainchild of billionaire Sebastian Plank: Recruit a global team of young climbers and film an inspiring, world-uniting documentary. The adventure begins when fifteen-year-old Peak Marcello and his mountaineer mother are helicoptered to a remote base camp in the Hindu Kush Mountains on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. When the camp is attacked and his mother taken, Peak has no choice but to track down the perpetrators to try to save her.

My Review: Though The Edge is the sequel to Peak, it could definitely be read as a stand-alone, though I highly recommend reading Peak as well. The Edge was one of the most intense reads I’ve read in a while. As soon as the attacks happen, I could not put the book down because I needed to know what, why, and how: what happened?!; Why did they do it?!; and How are they going to save them?! Smith’s ability to write characters the reader cares about mixed with his ability to build suspense just makes this a book that definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat!

lost tribes

The Lost Tribes
Author: C. Taylor-Butler
Published March 25th, 2015 by Move Books

Goodreads Summary: Five friends are in a race against time in this action-adventure story involving ancient tribal artifacts that hold the fate of the universe in the balance. None of these trailblazers imagined their ordinary parents as scientists on a secret mission. But when their parents go missing, they are forced into unfathomable circumstances and learn of a history that is best left unknown, for they are catalysts in an ancient score that must be settled. As the chaos unfolds, opportunities arise that involve cracking codes and anticipating their next moves. This book unfolds sturdy, accurate scientific facts and history knowledge where readers will surely become participants.  

My Review: This book surprised me! I cannot tell you what surprised me because I want it to surprise you, but the book ended up being very different than what I thought it was going to be. The book introduces us to Ben who is given a computer game to solve from his Uncle Henry. Ben just wants to impress Henry, so he vows to complete the game. Along with his 3 friends and his sister, Ben immerses himself in the game only to find out it is more than he could even imagine. The book has riddles, codes, and information throughout, and I definitely could see fans of Tombquest or 39 Clues enjoying this adventure. But, once again, this book isn’t as it seems!

Recommended For: 


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