When I read about Visionary from the Stars by Virginia Lori Jennings, I thought that the genre made famous by Da Vinci Code (the search for ancient artifacts affecting modern lives) has also seen rebirth in the sci-fi genre. Though I am not entirely wrong, that does not mean that the book is any less science fiction, or that the book is just a space-based copy of the genre.
Jean McClain, a teenage research scientist on (or rather, in orbit round) a planet called Udoran is “recruited” by aliens called Platonians to “help” them. She is told that another species sends humans on search for an artifact and makes them fall prey to fatal “practical jokes”, and Jean can help save her fellow humans by helping the Platonians.
On moon base, a group of campers come across a cylinder covered in archaic symbols which turn out to be a part of map, giving the location of a Galactic Bible. The group, comprised of a pilot, a family consisting of a botanist and a doctor with their electronics genius daughter, and a scientist, is charged with exploring the map and finding the Bible by traveling aboard a new ship called Star Traveler. They start by getting to Ganymede, where they find second piece of the map.
The map leads them to a planet called Exandra, teeming with intelligent species, where they meet friends and foe and help set up a human colony. Of course, their quest and the colony are not safe as they are met by a very deadly foe.
The book contains memorable human and alien characters, but the story truly belongs to kids, what with Jean McClain, Laurie Kingston and Chris Hagan getting a major piece of the action. Of these, Laurie the electronics genius, who is part of original Star Traveler crew (as engineer and back-up pilot), gets to be in the thick of the things.
I would say that the kids act quite grown up (Laurie is 11, Jean a teenager), and show a maturity beyond their ages, but then, that's not bad, is it? I mean, there are very few children who act their age when becoming heroes, right? I would say the ECOP (Exandra's Caretakers of Peace) part of the story is an interesting touch too, as is the underground movement of the followers of “I Am” (the alien name for God).