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Children of the Fleet: Fleet School #1    by Orson Scott Card order for
Children of the Fleet
by Orson Scott Card
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Orson Scott Card takes fans back to their best memories of Ender's universe in his new Children of the Fleet. This time, instead of training a young genius for battle, those pulling the strings behind the scenes are assessing whether he has what it takes to lead a new Earth colony on an alien world. And young Dabeet Ochoa is brilliant, and arrogant in his own awareness of how gifted he is. He has much to learn.

Dabeet has never known his father (supposedly a brave Fleet officer), and struggles to escape his mother's intense focus on him. He starts making applications - for Fleet-child status and admission to Fleet School. The great Hyrum Graff (now Minister of Colonization) shows up. He confirms that Dabeet's father is an officer of the Fleet, and leaves the boy a test to pass. After that meeting, Dabeet is kidnapped by a mysterious South American group. He assures his own - and his mother's - survival by agreeing to open up Fleet School to them, once he is established there.

At Fleet School, Dabeet finds himself 'a competitor in a cooperative place'. The other children call him Mudbooter and Test Boy. They despise his lack of null-gee experience. Unable to properly participate in the battleroom, he discovers that he can reshape its panels, and explores creating different structures. Zhang He is impressed and works with him. Now Dabeet has a friend, and their activity attracts others, including Cynthia 'Monkey' Munk. She helps him too.

During one assignment Dabeet and Zhang He discover a smuggling operation. Can they trust any of the adults? So when Dabeet's kidnappers press him to action (his mother under threat), he enlists the children he has been working with to plan a defense of Battle School. He makes his own plans as well, and puts his life on the line. And he learns the value - and effectiveness - of working with others, even when their test scores are lower than his.

Young Dabeet Ochoa, arrogant as he is, wins readers' hearts and we learn a great deal about leadership as we turn the pages of Children of the Fleet ... but we wonder, which of our favorite past characters is Dabeet's dad? Don't miss this one, or its sequels!

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