Clem Hetherington and the Ironwood Race by Jen Breach and Douglas Holgate, 208pp, RL 3

Clem Hetherington and the Ironwood Race 
Purchased at Barnes & Noble
Story: The daughter of a brilliant archaeologist and an equally genius inventor, Clementine Hetherington and her "brother" Diggory (a sentient android built by her father) are runaway orphans. Looking for a way to earn a living and do what they love - get back to the archaeological digs where they grew up - they ask their mother's mentor, Professor Perton, to take them on a dig. Clem is only fourteen and he tells her to go to college and then come back, leaving them vulnerable to the less than noble propositions of  Alastair Kilburn. Once an apprentice to the Hetheringtons, Kilburn recognized Clem's talent for archaeology even before her parents did. Now a black market antiquities dealer, Kilburn needs money to pay off debts. Knowing the high standards and honesty Clem's mother possessed and passed on to her, he keeps this secret from the pair. Instead, he promises them rare artifacts that they can donate to the Lewishon Museum, endearing themselves to Professor Perton. Driving a dune buggy built by her father, Kilburn prepares Clem and Dig for the Ironwood Race and the four artifacts they will have to find over four days, battling other, tougher, older, better weaponized teams. Once the race starts, the novel moves at a VERY fast pace, with major setbacks for Clem and Dig, with a few major shockers thrown in.
Illustrations: The illustrations for this Indiana Jones-meets-Mad Max-mash-up are fantastic! Both with story and illustrations, Breach and Holgate have built a world that I want to know so much more about. Midway through the story, when you feel like you are getting a handle on the world Clem and Dig live in, the racers speed through a herd of triceratops. The other creatures in this world are fascinating, as you can see, a bit, in the illustration above, which is actually half of a two-page spread of the marketplace. When the pace of the story allows for details, they are intriguing!
 
Why Read? Why Buy?: Read and buy because this book, which I hope is the first in a series,  both delivers and promises so much! Of course, Clem, as prodigy and a badass driver of dune buggies, is someone I want to know more about. No spoilers, but I KNOW there are good things to come for her and Diggory and I can't wait to see what they dig up next.



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