Crater Lake Evolution
Crater Lake Evolution by Jennifer Killick
It's five months since the nightmare Year Six School trip to Crater Lake, and something has gone very wrong in Lance's home town of Straybridge. There's been an explosion at the University, a mysterious test creature is missing and no one is allowed in or out of the town. On top of this Lance has lost touch with his friends since starting at his new school. And now his mum has been acting strangely since they started decorating the Christmas tree... As he goes door to door trying to reunite his team, Lance realises how bad things have got. Now he, Katja, Max, Chets and Ade, plus new friend Karim, must think bigger and bolder if they are to save their families. But there's something else out there too - something straight out of their nightmares...
Crater Lake Evolution is an absolute thrill of a ride. Taking place 5 months after the events of the original Crater Lake it picks up in Straybridge, home town of Lance and the rest of the crew. Like it's predecessor the book thrusts you right into the action immediately with an explosion at the University at the beginning of the book. Nobody is exactly sure what has happened but it results in the town of Straybridge being locked down, no one is allowed in or out and as information comes forward-it transpires that one of the 'test subjects' at the university has escaped and so a curfew is put in place.
One of the things I loved about the original Crater Lake was that it had a feel of classic 80's horror movies-I think I described it as being a cross between the Goonies and Invasion of the Body Snatchers at the time. Well, Crater Lake Evolution continues with this vibe. There are definite 80's horror movie vibes which I loved, but this time it's crossed with Stranger Things (there's even reference made to the Demigorgon!).
The other thing that really made the first book for me was the characters and the authentic dynamics between them. As a teacher of year 6 children for many years it was like looking through a window and watching a real group of kids talk and interact with each other; the way they spoke and how they behaved really captured the essence of children this age. In this new book the group have moved onto high school and to keep with that authentic feel, the inevitable has happened and they have drifted apart once they have all moved to their respective high schools. Lance still has some contact with Chets but the rest of the gang haven't spoken to each other in a while, and with Chets there is some friction as Lance has a new friend in Karim. Lance has to deal with the familiar problem of balancing old friends and new and trying to keep both happy.
As the story progresses we get to catch up with the old familiar faces and it is really enjoyable seeing how they come back together again. The addition of Karim to the gang is a masterstroke as he provides some brilliant moments of comedy relief whilst being able to comment on the group dynamics with the eye of an outsider.
I won't go into the story itself too much as it is a mystery adventure after all so I don't want to spoil it for anyone, suffice to say that this builds on Crater Lake in a very satisfying way. The story is brilliantly paced and I really couldn't put it down; at the end of every chapter I was left wanting more. There are some scary moments and some exciting moments all balanced perfectly with a smattering of comedy throughout. If you enjoyed the first Crater Lake book you will love this one.
Crater Lake Evolution is out on 20th May 2021, I for one will be pre ordering it. Crater Lake is probably the most popular book in my classroom this year and I'm sure the children would never forgive me if I don't bring them the sequel too!
If you do buy this book please consider getting it from an independent bookshop. Authors make very little from the books they sell, particularly when they are sold from large retailers that buy in bulk at heavy discounts like Amazon, where the author can make as little as 12p per book. Buying from an independent bookshop not only helps the author and publisher but helps the whole book community as bookshops are the lifeblood of reading.
Here are a couple of links for pre ordering: