I imagine most of you haven’t heard of L.M. Preston. With the deluge of young adult science fiction being written right now, new authors seem to be popping onto the scene every day. However, during my time running Luke Reviews, I had the distinct opportunity to wade through a bunch of books that fit in this genre, and try to sort the good from the bad. Through this, I lucked into finding a number of great authors writing books for young adults who are fans of science fiction. One of these authors, Hugh Howey, I discussed in my first article here at Digital Science Fiction. Another great choice is the aforementioned L.M. Preston.
L.M. Preston is currently the sole author working at Phenomenal One Press (although POP is looking for more great YA fiction, for the authors out there reading this!), whose stated goal is empowering kids and young adults through entertaining fiction. L.M. Preston’s work excels at this. Each of her books treats the young adults who are her intended audience with respect, not talking down to them, and showing kids the world over that they can accomplish great things and overcome terrible burdens, just like the protagonists of Preston’s novels.
Preston’s first book was just released early in 2010. Explorer X – Alpha follows a group of kids, led by Aadi and his partner Eirena, who head to space camp, only to find out that the camp is a front for something far more sinister. When disaster strikes, Aadi and Eirena must work together to stay alive on an alien planet as their bodies become something out of their nightmares. At times, Explorer X – Alpha shows that it is a first novel, with some awkward phrasing, but the story is a blast to read. Preston’s style is, put plainly, smooth, and her character interactions feel real. These parts of the novel far outweigh any slight moments of awkwardness. The story leaves the reader more than ready to dive into the next book in the series.
Preston followed this up a few months later with The Pack, the first book in a duology set on Mars. Shamira, a blind teenager who is constantly shunned and outcast among the other teens on Mars, realizes that more than a normal amount of children are disappearing, and that it seems there might be more to all of this than what meets the eye, especially when Shamira’s own beloved brother is kidnapped. Setting out to instigate some vigilante justice, Shamira comes across others who are seeking the truth, and a dark conspiracy that lies under the surface of the red planet. While I personally didn’t enjoy The Pack as much as I loved Explorer X – Alpha, it still has some strong moments, and after going back and reading it for this article, I’m looking forward to Preston’s release of The Pack: Retribution, out later this year.
The following year saw the release of L.M. Preston’s third novel, Bandits, another book set to have its story concluded in a second novel. Daniel is set to save the world after his father’s death, but his father’s murderers have another plan. As Daniel sets out, his is joined by his cousin and his friend’s sister, Jade, who he is starting to realize he may care about more than he wants. The action is fast paced, and the story blazes by, as Preston writes a futuristic pirate thriller. Bandits is a very different book from Preston’s first two, but it is just as good. A great fit for the pirate craze, this one will find plenty of fans, and keep them all happy.
The real excitement, and the impetus for this look at L.M. Preston, is the recent release of her fourth novel. Explorer X – Beta picks up right where Explorer X – Alpha left off, with Aadi and Eirena trapped on an alien planet trying to escape both the planet itself and its denizens, who see all sorts of possibilities in two mutated children. However, with all of this against them, the two partners head off to save another of their friends, all the while with Aadi forced to realize that, with the changes thrust upon him, there really may be no going home again, where his friends would see nothing but a monster.
Explorer X – Beta deals with some pretty serious and dark themes in Aadi’s internal struggles, yet it plows ahead at a fast pace through the plot, with Aadi and Eirena’s quest proving both engaging and thrilling. Beta takes all of the best parts of Alpha, especially the character interaction, and cranks them all up a notch, while also shedding some of the new writer shakes of the first novel. Explorer X – Beta is bigger in scope and more polished in execution.
L.M. Preston is a blossoming writer who started out great and is only getting better. Her books are perfect for young adult readers, as well as adults who get wrapped up in fast paced, exciting storylines that manage to both feel comfortable while still pushing moral and emotional boundaries in young minds, leading its readers to let their minds leave the pages and think for themselves.
It seems most fitting to let L.M. Preston herself get the final word in on this. When I interviewed her for Luke Reviews after I was first introduced to her work, she closed out her comments by saying,
I want my readers to know, that as a young person you have your entire life in front of you. Even when things look bad, you still have the ability to fight through to make it better. Always blaze your own path and never get discouraged while you are becoming stronger through the battles of life. Imagine yourself as the hero that you are, and you will do amazing things despite your challenges. How do I know this? Well, because I have and I know you can too.