Galaxy Games: The Challengers by Greg R. Fishbone

The opening book of the Galaxy Games trilogy finds 11-year-old Tyler Sato at the center of a crisis neither he nor the world expected: a star named after him has turned out not to be a star but an object heading for Earth. The object proves to be a starship bearing some startling news: Earth has declared a challenge against an alien world, one that can only be resolved through a game. Tyler is drafted to lead an international group of young athletes in a contest where he has to learn the rules as he goes along, and hope somehow he doesn’t ruin Earth’s first contact with the stars.

Greg Fishbone has long displayed a gift for blending likeable characters, just-this-side-of-ludicrous situations, fast-paced action, and humor that both kids and adults will enjoy. (Hey, I was grinning and sometimes laughing out loud, and there wasn’t a middle schooler anywhere around.) I was reminded of both the fun adventure feel of the Lucky Starr books I enjoyed as a kid and the character-driven humor of the Discworld books, though the story itself is derivative of neither. I’m definitely looking forward to the next volume.