2 out of 4 stars
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Luke and Luka: Genius Kid Heroes by A. D. Largie is a chapter book, written for kids who are moving beyond picture books but still want a lot of pictures in their reading material. It is the first book in a series that will focus on three sets of genius twins: Luke and Luka, Erik and Erika, and George and Georgia. Each set of twins displays their genius in different ways. In the world of the book, Luke and Luka are athletic geniuses. Erik and Erika show their genius in artistic ways, and George and Georgia are computer and math geniuses.
These three sets of genius twins are all friends at their public school and play on the soccer team together. Despite having Luke and Luka, their team is not the best team in their league. The best team is from the private school, A.I. Prep. The A.I. team plays only to win and is not above cheating. During a match between the two teams, George happens to see a QR code tattoo behind the ear of one of the A.I. players.
The following week, the twins are on a field trip with their school at the labs of Transhuman Corporation. Luke notices that there are some restricted areas and decides to sneak into one. His sister and friends end up joining him. In the lab, they see babies in tubes of liquid, each with a QR code tattoo behind one of its ears. George believes they have brain implants of some sort. The six children decide that these babies are a threat and that they must save humanity from Transhuman Corporation.
There was a lot to like in the book. The pictures were wonderful, and I really enjoyed the art style. My favorite part of the book were the names of the secondary characters. Luke and Luka’s doctor was named Alley Lane. Their computer teacher was Mr. Linux, and their math teacher was Ms. Calculus. These names will not mean much to the kids this book is aimed at, but they will likely make parents smile. In addition, while the story focused on the kids, their parents are not written as absent or uncaring. They are present and supportive.
That said, I had a number of issues with the book. Some of them I can forgive because the book is aimed at children. When Erik’s artistic genius was demonstrated by him painting a “perfect” replica of the Mona Lisa, the painting is also described as better than the original. This annoys me on a couple of levels, in that a perfect replica would be exactly the same as the original and then skips over what actually makes the painting famous.
The book needed an editor. The author spends most of the book writing in past-tense but occasionally slips into present-tense. There is no consistency in how commas are used for multiple adjectives preceding nouns. It does not appear that anyone looked at how the book would appear on the “page” for the .epub version. Chapter headers appear at the end of the first-page text, which often displays over two screen views, meaning transitions are unsignaled and confusing. Finally, there are points when there are no line breaks where there should be and other points where there are extraneous line breaks.
But what I liked least about the book was that its subject matter did not feel appropriate for kids of the age it is aimed at. I understand that it is trying to go for a comic book feel, but children young enough to be reading and enjoying chapter books where the characters are third graders are not children who are going to understand the “transhuman” storyline. It immediately “others” babies and other kids because of the way they come into being.
I give Luke and Luka: Genius Kid Heroes by A. D. Largie two out of four stars. There were things in the book that made me smile, but this is not a book I would give to the kids in my life. I think it would bring up questions around what makes us human and whether or not it is right to assume someone is “evil” because they are different from us.
The book is aimed at kids in the 9 to 12 age range. It is not going to be something that appeals to anyone much older. However, I would recommend that a parent of any child that reads this book read it too in order to be able to talk about some of the issues I think the storyline might bring up.
Luke and Luka: Genius Kid Heroes
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