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The Dark Planet: Atherton #3    by Patrick Carman Amazon.com order for
Dark Planet
by Patrick Carman
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Normally, I do not like science fiction, but Patrick Carman has put so much fantasy into his Atherton trilogy, that I have loved it from the start despite its sci-fi elements. The Dark Planet is a fitting conclusion, and although it does contain the foreshadowed environmental lesson, it is no more preachy that a typical middle-reader book and is still a very enjoyable adventure.

Now that Atherton is flat, Edgar only has one place still to climb the bottom. As he ventures further over the edge, he notices a glow coming from the very bottom. Dr. Kincaid tells him that this is the docking station from when they first came to Atherton from the Dark Planet but that the inside way has been blocked now that Atherton has collapsed. Edgar believes that he can reach it from the outside and Dr. Kincaid and Vincent send him off, unbeknownst to his friends, Isabel and Samuel.

Along the way, Edgar find a tablet with instructions on it and a secret inside. When Edgar reaches the Raven, the living vessel that will take him to the Dark Planet, he finds a recording of Dr. Harding telling him to give the tablet to a child he trusts. As he leaves Atherton, he sends the tablet to Samuel and Isabel. Mad at first at Edgar for not telling them he was leaving, they embark on their own adventure (once again inside Atherton), where they encounter one of Dr. Harding's greatest creations a dragon named Gossamer.

Meanwhile, Edgar has arrived on the Dark Plant and finds it a very gloomy place. The children all live in something called the Silo where they create blocks of a white powder and are beaten if they do not perform to standard. Edgar is placed with the green team, and together, they help Edgar achieve his mission, but not without many perils along the way.

All of the Atherton tales up until now have only taken place on the fantastic world of Atherton, so it was interesting to see Carman's vision of a destroyed Earth, now called The Dark Planet. It is truly a desolate place, and it is easy for the reader to glean the environmental message, which makes The Dark Planet enjoyable. What also makes the story a good read are Carman's well-rounded characters. Edgar, Isabel, and Samuel have proved themselves to be strong in the previous books, but Edgar's new friends from the Dark Planet are also great heroes and heroines.

The one problem with The Dark Planet is its loose ends. Carman likes to foreshadow, especially at the end of chapters, and not all the events and problems alluded to actually arise. However, this does not detract from what otherwise is a very enjoyable read. The Dark Planet is a fitting end to the Atherton trilogy. Although Edgar's story has been told, I am very interested to see more from Patrick Carman.

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