The Web of Titan is the second book in Dom Testa's Galahad series (after The Comet's Curse, which I reviewed in January). The Galahad books are about a group of teens who are sent off on the spaceship Galahad to populate a distant planet (a five year journey away). Their flight is a response to a fatal virus that is attacking all of the adults on earth (and thus no adults can accompany them on the ship, for fear of infecting the teens as they get older).
As The Web of Titan begins, the 251 teens are well on their way into space, nearing the edge of Earth's solar system. They've been asked to do a special project on their way, picking up a small pod that's orbiting Titan, one of the moons of Saturn. The pod was put into place by a group of adult researchers, all of whom have stopped communicating with Earth. As the teens on the ship attempt to capture the pod, and learn the fate of the scientists, they're faced with a mysterious illness that strikes various crew members. These developments put considerable pressure on the council of five who govern the Galahad. Things are further complicated by various romantic entanglements among the kids on the flight.
As Paige Y. noted in her review, this is definitely a series book. It doesn't stand on its own, particularly in regard to the evolving relationships between the characters. But I actually liked it better than the first book (which had to convey a lot of background about the virus and the building of the ship, and used adult characters to do so). The characters are culturally diverse, yet all bright and ambitious (reflecting their selection as the most promising from various gene pools). Ship's commander Triana is plausibly conflicted by the various pressures surrounding her. The mysteries about the pod and the cause of the illnesses are intriguing, and the ending is quite suspenseful.
My favorite character remains Roc, the Galahad's intelligent on-board computer. He seems to have the best sense of humor on the ship. For example, he jokes about wanting a meeting to be held later, because he is "useless before noon." Um, he's a computer. Funny! Or there's this:
"A great philosopher once noted that people will rise to the level they expect of themselves, not to any artificial level imparted by outside forces. Meaning that a group of people can expect good or bad performances from someone, but those expectations account for nothing compared to the person's own self-image and beliefs.
I have my own philosophy. Whoever suggested we swing by Saturn on our trip should be strapped to the front of the ship like a hood ornament." (Chapter 27)
I think I like Roc best because I find the human characters in the Galahad books a bit too perfect (all of them are both attractive and multi-talented). I also still find it implausible (as I mentioned in my review of the first book) that a group of unsupervised teens would, apparently, display no discernible interest in sex. But that does keep the books accessible to younger readers. It also keeps the focus on the science fiction plot, rather than turning this into a space sudser. So those are good things.
Overall, I think that there's a real need for straight-up science fiction for teens, and I'm glad that this series is out there. It has a bit of an old-school sci-fi feel to it, like books by Ben Bova that I enjoyed as a teen. I'll be looking forward to future installments in the series. Recommended for science fiction fans, boys or girls, middle school and up.
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: June 29, 2010
Source of Book: Advanced review copy from the author. Quotes are from the ARC, and should be checked against the final printed book.
Other Blog Reviews: Reading and Breathing
© 2010 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).