The Dark Planet by Patrick Carman takes place in dark future where the Earth is polluted and the remaining population struggles to exist amidst terrible creatures called Cleaners and Spikers. The only hope the planet has lies with the long-forgotten Atherton, a constructed habitat designed by the possibly mad scientist Dr. Harding and his final creation, the boy Edgar.
In this young readers novel, the final of the Atherton series, Edgar makes his way off of Atherton to the Dark Planet, solving puzzles along the way left by Dr. Harding that are sometimes horrendous, sometimes frightening, and often just plain weird. Edgar must piece together all the clues, along with help from old friends and new, to figure out how Atherton can save the world - all the while trying to avoid death from the horrible creatures of Atherton, and being caught by the headmistress of the Silo, Commander Judix.
I haven't read the first two books in the series, but there's a summary at the beginning to catch you up and for the most part it works. I was never clear on whether Atherton was in orbit or high up in the atmosphere as Edgar climbs around on the outside of the structure without a pressure suit... and maybe I'm just being nitpicky about details.
The story seemed intense and exciting for young readers. Amazon says this series is for 5th-8th graders. The 8th graders I know (my oldest daughter) might find it a little young for them, but for anyone younger it should be fine. Children find themselves in dangerous situations, often going behind the backs of their guardians to go on adventures. Of course, for the kids in the Silo the adults are the bad guys and mistreat the children.
If your kids need a dark science fiction series where kids are the heroes, the Atherton series seems like a good pick.
Atherton #3, The Dark Planet was provided to me for review by IJustFinished.com