I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Nebula Secret” by Trudi Trueit! This is the first book in the Explorer Academy series.
Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:
“Cruz leaves his tranquil home in Hawaii to join 23 talented kids from around the globe to train at the Explorer Academy with the world’s leading scientists to become the next generation of great explorers. But for Cruz, there’s more at stake. No sooner has he arrived at the Academy than he discovers that his family has a mysterious past with the organization that could jeopardize his future. In the midst of codebreaking and cool classes, new friends and augmented-reality expeditions, Cruz must tackle the biggest question of all: Who is out to get him … and why?”
Worldbuilding Development: 4 out of 5 stars
The overall worldbuilding made sense, though there are some lingering questions. I enjoyed learning about the Academy’s technology and how they train their students. The augmented reality training sequences were quite fun to read, and they acted as a great way to get to know the Academy’s technology and be opportunities for the characters to train and learn from their mistakes.
Character Development: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I really enjoyed reading Cruz, as well as his friends Sailor and Emmet. All three of them had some fun personalities that kept me engaged and interested in them, especially Cruz.
I also enjoyed reading Cruz’s relationship with his various family members (his mom, dad, and aunt). They were a highlight of this book due to the varying dynamics each of them had. Additionally, I enjoy the fact that the whole family ended up getting involved in the main story in some way (mainly Cruz’s mom, given that it’s her death that’s investigated in this book).
However, a lot of Cruz’s fellow explorers training at the Academy could use more depth. Granted, the book mainly focused on Cruz and his friends than the others. Given that this is the first book in a series, however, there are certainly opportunities to flesh out the other kids at the Academy later on.
Plot Development: 4 out of 5 stars
I enjoyed reading the overall story, which consisted of Cruz training at the Academy while also investigating his mom’s mysterious death. It was fun to read some of the plot twists involved, and I actually thought the main story was solid. I won’t give away spoilers in this review, but I promise they were good plot twists.
However, there are some lingering questions: What exactly is the goal of Nebula, the enemy organization discussed throughout the book? Why do they want Cruz so badly (other than the points revealed in the late chapters of the book)? I suspect those will be answered in later books, but it does leave some food for thought about who Cruz should or should not be trusting.
A bulk of the big reveal was info-dumped into one or two chapters late in the book. I wish that there was a way to spread it out better or at least foreshadow it better. The way it was written felt like half of it almost came out of nowhere.
Overall, I’m rating this book 4 out of 5 stars!
This was a really fun book to read. I look forward to reading the other Explorer Academy books in the series as well!
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