The final book in this stand out middle-grade trilogy provides lots of action and excitement while effectively wrapping up the series.
Evil genius and scary part-beetle, Lucretia Cutter, has launched her campaign against humanity. She’s releasing swarms of beetles to destroy essential crops causing economic disaster and threatening world starvation. She’s demanding all the world’s leaders bow to her demands and warning she’ll take even more drastic action if they refuse to comply. While the military from around the globe try to track her down, Darkus and his friends have a tip off that leads them deep into the South American jungle. Will they be able to stop Lucretia’s evil scheme and once again rescue Darkus’s dad before the army find and bomb the secret location?
I thoroughly enjoyed both Beetle Boy and Beetle Queen so I was very excited to read the third and final instalment in this trilogy about Darkus and his friends (which include children Bertolt, Virginia and part-beetle Novak and, of course, their collection of genetically modified beetles.)
While the truly evil Lucretia Cutter (our modern-day Cruella De Vil only with beetles instead of dalmatians) remains my favourite character, she is trumped in this book not by another character but by the amazing setting. The bulk of the story takes place in her biome in the middle of the jungle in Ecuador and this vast complex, with its hexagonal and bomb proof construction, is so vividly described that it’s almost possible to see – and smell – it.
In terms of the characters, I continue to admire the fact that this middle-grade series refuses to marginalise the adults. Indeed, author M G Leonard goes one step further in this book when Darkus has to accept that, unlike so many characters in children’s action-adventure stories, he can’t manage alone. Only by working as part of team alongside his friends and the adults with them can he hope to undermine Lucretia Cutter’s sadistic schemes.
My favourite adult character remains Darkus’ Uncle Max and I just loved the scenes at airport security when he loads himself with metal items and effectively plays the stereotypical bungling Englishman in order to distract attention while the children smuggle the beetles through. (They release them from the hidden pockets in the lining of their clothes while all eyes are on Uncle Max, allowing the beetles to fly over the heads of the queues and security staff).
The plot, perhaps, lacks the thrills of the previous two books but it is more than enough to keep you turning the pages. My only minor gripe is the inclusion of the scene where Darkus and Virginia are exploring the biome and Darkus shows off his knowledge of the different types of beetles that Lucretia Cutter has bred. I’m confident it’s all very technically correct but I just wanted to get on with the story!
I can only imagine how hard it must be to end a successful trilogy and this does so impressively. The plot of all three books is nicely wrapped up at the end. Indeed, I had to blink a tear from eye in the closing scenes and the very last line of the book (and therefore the series) is simply inspired.
If you haven’t read them already, I’d suggest you read Beetle Boy and Beetle Queen before picking up this book. Alternatively, if you’d like to read another exciting middle-grade adventure, why not try Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend.
Publication date: February 2018
Publisher: Chicken House
Author’s website: M G Leonard