Friday, October 10, 2014

Dynamic Duo in Danger! The Twin Powers by Robert Lipsyte

Hercules' smile encouraged me.

"So is it going to happen? Are we going to save the Earths?" said Eddie.

"Doesn't look too good right now, does it?" said Hercules.

"I don't get it. If the Primary People have all these powers, why don't they save the Earths?"

Hercules sighed. "When the Primary people began their scientific experiments, the Supreme Council made a law that could not be broken. We would never intervene in the affairs of a planet we were studying."

"You would just stand there and let terrible things happen?"

"We know it sounds cruel, but we had to stay scientists, not gods."

It's not easy being a halfling--as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson can attest, and Tom Canty has two Earths to save, one the Earth in the present, and the other the 1958 Earth where his twin Eddie is currently enjoying the role of basketball star and all-around great guy. Some hard-nosed government agents are on Tom's tail, and the aliens are out to get him and Eddie, too, even if they are half alien themselves. Tom and Eddie's father and grandpa are aliens, but he doesn't know where they are, and it's not looking good for Eddie over on 1958 Earth with the Cold War and those hydrogen bomb tests unless the half-alien twins can come into their powers pronto. And Eddie is just getting the message that he's got a steep learning curve ahead of him.

There is a lot going on in the second book in veteran author Robert Lipsyte's Twinning Project series, The Twin Powers (Twinning Project) (Clarion Books, 2014), a lot of mind-to-mind communication between Eddie and Tom as they learn how to stay in touch, a lot of time travel in various extraterrestrial vehicles, and a touch of thought-generated mayhem as they come into conflict with both the alien Primary People's high council and the ever present X-Men types also trying to capture them at every turn. But they have their developing powers, their friends Ronnie, Alessa, and Britzky, earthlings from each planet, their dad and grandpa making cameo performances, and of course, the aliens' favorite sage, Mark Twain (get it?) to guide them.

It's a hard job, but someone's got to do it, and it may require several more sequels!

"Will we ever get back home?" said Alessa.

"Hard to say," said Grandpa. "Might depend on what happens."
I could sense dark clouds in the minds of Britzky and Alessa. They were feeling sad about their families, wondering when they would see them again.

Grandpa stood up. "We better get going. Can't let the 1958 space agency find a 2012 rocket ship."

Ronnie smiled. "If you're so smart," she said, "what are we going to do now?"

"Lots to do on this planet," said Britzky. "Check the timeline. We could be Freedom Riders."

"Count me in," said Ronnie.

Robert Lipsyte, who won the Margaret Edwards' Award for lifetime achievement in young people's literature, is one of the pioneers of the modern "junior novel," and in this latest installment whizzes his characters through the process of coalescing into a force for good. In the midst of all the trappings of a rip-roaring, time-traveling, and quite funny science fiction romp is the serious theme of how human beings can use their powers toward the good of their planet, whichever one it may be.

But then we've got Mark Twain to guide us. As he said, Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.

"Chock-full of action and suspense, this series will get readers thinking about important social and environmental issues," says School Library Journal.

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