Booked til Tuesday

Life, Law & Libros

The Forbidden Fortress by Diana Peterfreund (2.5 stars)

I reviewed the first book in this series, Omega City, a while back and really enjoyed the mix of conspiracy theories and adventure. (I also loved Peterfreund's YA Persuasion retelling, For Darkness Shows the Stars, if you want to check that out.) Unfortunately, The Forbidden Fortress didn't quite live up to its predecessor, but there are definitely weird things ahead for the next book.

Spoilers for Book 1 ahead.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Forbidden Fortress by Diana Peterfreund
Series: Omega City #2
Genres: MG, Sci-fi, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller
Published on February 14, 2017
Published by Balzer + Bray
Final Rating: 2.5 stars
Gillian Seagret is not having a great summer. Her mother’s come back from Asia with plans to move Gillian and her brother across the country, and her conspiracy theorist father is away promoting his new book on Omega City—without her! Though Gillian and her friends were the ones to find the lost doomsday bunker, no one seems care about their thoughts on the whereabouts of its creator, Dr. Aloysius Underberg, or even learning the truth about the Shepherds, a mysterious organization ready to stop at nothing to keep Underberg—and Omega City—a secret.

All that changes when Gillian and her friends are invited to speak at a lecture series at Guidant—an advanced technology company. Gillian feels like they’re finally being recognized for their adventures. The Guidant campus is full of wonders, from self-driving cars to robot waiters, and the future-focused employees seem like worthy heirs to innovators like Dr. Underberg.

But there are secrets here, too—a radio station that plays nothing but coded numbers, and an island that doesn’t appear on any map. And when Gillian and her friends uncover evidence that the Shepherd conspiracy goes deeper than anyone suspected, it’s up to them to infiltrate the Shepherds’ secret base and expose them… before it’s too late.

Gillian and friends reprise their role of meddling kids in the follow-up to Omega City with touches of The Jetsons, Interstellar and Planet of the Apes.

The first half of The Forbidden Fortress felt like setup for the second. Gillian deals with some family problems, a book from Underberg appears, the crew gets invited to a corporation's tech campus and, once there, they slowly become suspicious and eventually decide to investigate potential Shepherd (evil secret society) activity. The problem was that the first half lacked the ever-present tension and danger of the first book. I kept waiting for it to shift gears from Boxcar Children to Indiana Jones, and it only started doing so halfway through. (Side note: The training bra conversation in the first chapter felt a little out of place.)

Things picked up once the kids were away from adults, trespassing and discovering secret facilities once more. It's hard to top the first book's secret, underground, half-submerged, Cold War bunker city, but it was interesting to be on the bad guys' turf for a change. I don't want to spoil any surprises, but it involves animals, environments, ecology and a big theme from Book 1.

The Forbidden Fortress was still enjoyable, but it fell into a number of classic middle book pitfalls, including a cliffhanger ending. I would have enjoyed this book more if it condensed the whole first half into a few chapters and got straight to the action. Regardless, there are big schemes and lots of danger ahead, and I look forward to seeing where Peterfreund takes this story next. (Hopefully Nate will be back in play next time. The group dynamic felt a little off without him.)


  1. The boxcar children! I haven't even thought about that in years. The Jetsons reference... Ya, I think about that a lot more.

    1. I just watched The Jetsons movie again recently. So much 80's! :)