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Omega City

Omega City

4.0 1
by Diana Peterfreund

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The first middle grade novel in an exciting new series from acclaimed author Diana Peterfreund, perfect for fans of The Goonies and City of Ember.

Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War-era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may


The first middle grade novel in an exciting new series from acclaimed author Diana Peterfreund, perfect for fans of The Goonies and City of Ember.

Gillian Seagret doesn’t listen to people who say her father’s a crackpot. His conspiracy theories about the lost technology of Cold War-era rocket scientist Dr. Aloysius Underberg may have cost him his job and forced them to move to a cottage in the sticks, but Gillian knows he’s right and plans to prove it.

When she discovers a missing page from Dr. Underberg’s diary in her father’s office, she thinks she’s found a big piece of the puzzle—a space-themed riddle promising to lead to Underberg’s greatest invention. Enlisting the help of her brother, Eric, her best friend, Savannah, and Howard, their NASA-obsessed schoolmate, Gillian sets off into the ruins of a vast doomsday bunker deep within the earth.

But they aren’t alone inside its dark and flooded halls. Now Gillian and her friends must race to explore Omega City and find the answers they need. For while Gillian wants to save her dad’s reputation by bringing Dr. Underberg’s secrets to light, others will stop at nothing to make sure they stay buried . . . forever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The missing page from a kooky aerospace scientist’s lost diary is the clue that sends Gillian Seagret, her younger brother, and her friends on an adventure into an underground bunker. But the treasure she expects to find—the prototype for a long-lasting battery—is nothing compared to what they actually discover: the subterranean Omega City, built during the Cold War to support life if the Earth were to become uninhabitable. The city has fallen into disrepair, and the pitfalls in its crumbling depths are as much a threat as the trio of armed thugs who are trying to steal Dr. Underberg’s inventions for themselves. In this fast-paced series opener, the author’s first for middle-graders, Peterfreund’s (Across a Star-Swept Sea) focus on character development is complemented by the equal attention she gives to the vast underground city itself. Gillian’s instincts to protect her friends and clear her historian father’s tarnished name are admirable, but Peterfreund gives every character the opportunity to grow, revealing themselves for who they really are. Ages 8–12. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Apr.)
Cinda Williams Chima
Praise for ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA: “Delicious romance, class warfare, and genetic engineering-Diana Peterfreund will ensnare you with this sci-fi twist to a classic story.”
VOYA, June 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 2) - Sharon Martin
Gillian Seagret’s life has come upon hard times. Her dad’s conspiracy theories and his unfinished and sabotaged book about the inventions of Dr. Underberg (a Cold War—era rocket scientist) have cost him his marriage, his job, and Gillian’s comfortable, happy family. When working to clear her father’s name, she discovers a page from Dr. Underberg’s missing diary. Working with her friends, they soon decipher the location of the door to a hidden city. Hot on their heels and shooting at them are some mysterious strangers, who are soon joined by Gillian’s father’s new girlfriend. Once in the city, Gillian and her friends are in a race to discover Dr. Underberg’s secrets and the bad guys are trying to get those secrets for themselves. What they find in the city could restore her father’s reputation, if they can survive. Omega City is a treat. Conspiracy theories, mysterious fires, lost diaries, suspicious grown-ups, pesky younger brothers, and a loyal and supportive group of friends, including the cute pizza delivery guy, fill the story. While comparisons to the movie The Goonies are inevitable, this title certainly stands on its own. It is an exciting read, hard to put down, and just plain fun. Some plot points are not expanded on, some characters’ motivations are not explained, and clearly, readers will have to suspend disbelief. While solidly a middle school title, this may appeal to junior high students who want to escape into some fun. This is a first in a series. Reviewer: Sharon Martin; Ages 11 to 15.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Omega City narrowly avoids being a cliché among adventure books for the preteen set. It has a clueless professor dad, a villain so obvious that kids will spot her the moment her four-inch heels click onto the scene, preternaturally intelligent kids, and a secret that could save civilization—if the heroes can get to it first. But Peterfreund packs the novel with so much suspense, history, and science, readers can't help but overlook the traps of the genre and get enthralled in the story. A group of kids—Gillian; her younger brother (by 11 months) Eric; their friend Savannah; space savant Howard; and Howard's older brother Nate—find themselves in a race to discover an invention that could change the world. Their search leads them to an underground city built during the height of the Cold War. There the young heroes are chased and put into life-threatening situations by the villain and her henchmen. The plotting is fast paced and exciting. Readers—like Gillian and her friends—will hardly have time to catch their breath before each new twist and turn. VERDICT Peterfreund mixes science and history in a way that may appeal to nonfiction readers as well as to action fans.—Marie Drucker, Malverne Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Gillian's dad's conspiracy theories ruined the family…but what if he's right?With their parents divorced, 12-year-old Gillian and her brother, Eric, live with their disgraced scientist father in their former summer home. Mom is abroad researching a book and not likely to come back to the States soon. Dad's biography of the controversial (and missing) engineer Aloysius Underberg ended his career. Now, all the unemployed history professor does is speak at conspiracy conventions and read seminars on the like. That's where he met his new more-than-friend Fiona. Gillian's distrust of Fiona leads her and her friends to discover missing pages of Dr. Underberg's journal…which leads them to discover a secret underground bunker-city that is twice as hard to escape as it was to find, especially with gun-toting secret agents on their heels. Gillian wants to find Dr. Underberg's 100-year battery or at least proof that her father is not crazy, but what she and her friends find is much more amazing…and dangerous. Teen author Peterfreund tries her hand at a sci-fantasy thriller for a younger audience and misses the mark. Though her conversational first-person narrator is personable enough, the coincidence-dependent plot has significant holes, and the thrills are sadly uneven. A secondary-at-best middle-grade thriller—here's hoping the sequels improve. (Adventure. 9-12)
Booklist (starred review)
“Young readers looking for a page-turning quest should get into this planned series on the ground floor.”
Lauren Willig
Praise for ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA: “An imaginative and energetic retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel-sheer fun!”
Beth Revis
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars is an impassioned ode to Jane Austen, love, and the hope found in stars.”
Laini Taylor
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “Don’t you love it when a brilliant idea meets with brilliant execution? Thank you, Diana Peterfreund for giving us a post-apocalyptic Persuasion. This book is meltingly good.”
Simone Elkeles
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “A beautiful, epic love story you won’t be able to put down!”
Robin Wasserman
Praise for FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS: “A smart and sexy tale of star-crossed love that’s as thought-provoking as it is heartbreaking.”
Romantic Times
Praise for ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA: “Peterfreund’s novel is riveting and intense...Readers will love this page-turning story and its dramatic climax.”
Praise for ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA: “Engrossing and fastpaced.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
Praise for ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA: “Complex in both plotting and themes, this science fiction revision of The Scarlet Pimpernel offers political intrigue, narrow escapes, and forbidden romance”
Allie Condie
Praise for ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA: “Across a Star-Swept Sea is, like its main character Persis Blake, a delight. Intrigue, romance, beautiful world-building, nuanced characters, and timely, intriguing questions come together to make this the perfect read. I loved it!”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Diana Peterfreund is the author of many books for adults and children, including the critically acclaimed For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea. She lives with her family outside Washington, DC, in a house full of bookshelves, and is always on the lookout for lost cities or stray rocket ships.

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Omega City 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omega City has been described as similar to City of Embers and The Goonies, and having Googled these movies (didn't watch them - I KNOW, the Goonies is on my list), I think this description is very apt. It's a rollicking adventure full of surprises, twists and turns. I would describe it as X-Files meets Indiana Jones for 8-12 year olds. One of Diana's strengths has always been complex plotlines that weave together seamlessly, and this one is no different. Gillian's father, a professor who specializes in conspiracies, published a book about an inventor called Dr. Underberg, who supposedly invented a battery that could last a hundred years in the middle of a Cold War. He lost his job because the facts were supposedly debunked, and Gillian and her brother Eric now live in the middle of nowhere Maryland so they can hide from the media scritiny. But when Gillian finds evidence that suggests that Dr Underberg's work might still exist, she embarks on an adventure with her brother Eric, her best friend Savannah, their classmate Howard, and Howard's brother, leading them into an underground world - and possibly into the hands of people who want to keep Dr. Underberg a secret. “The sad truth is, sometimes it’s easier for people to stick with the problems they know than to try to imagine a new way of life.” As usual, reading one of Diana's synopses is like unpacking an entire world, and as usual, I had my doubts - until I started reading. As an X-Files fan, I was fully drawn into Gillian's conspiracy-filled life. I liked how intrepid, curious, and questioning Gillian was. I liked how she was okay being the oddball in school, because she believed so passionately in her father and his work. Being a middle-grade book, two things were a bit jarring for me. Firstly, there was a lot more description than I was used to - scene setting, especially as we get further in - becomes more and more important. For me now, there was a tad too much description, but I know that as a twelve year old, I would have eaten up every word. “And it has been great. Mostly. Savannah’s different in the fall. Like how she spends more energy deciding where to sit at lunch than she does on the average quiz, and last week, she pretended not to know the answer to a problem in math class, even though she was the one who showed me how to solve it when we were doing our homework…” Secondly, while I liked the secondary characters, I did feel they were a bit light on character development in service of a fast-paced plot. Don’t get me wrong - each of the characters was a normal kid, from Eric who only wanted to play video games, to Howard the space-obsessed, to Savannah, who wanted to be popular in school and has a crush on the pizza delivery boy. They all had fun and distinctive personalities, but, as an adult, I really wanted to get into their heads because I liked them so much. Again, as a twelve year old, I think I would have adored the characters, so I don’t think this is an issue, but there was a bit of a disconnect for me as an adult. That said, for this book, plot was the main purpose, and I had so much fun trying to solve clues and run around on adventures with Gillian and her friends. The quest is just epic enough, the world is well-developed, the characters were funny and sarcastic, and at every turn, there was a twist. I definitely had heart-pounding moments where I was stressed for the characters, and I loved that. Bonuses: Sibling Rivalry: The relationship between Gillian and her brother Eric, and between Howard and his brother Nate really held this book together – their backtalk, friendly joshing and care for one another reminded me of my own relationship with my brother. Hints of Romance: As a frequent romance and YA reader, I was totally seeing some major hints at flirting from two characters – I won’t say much else, but I sincerely hope this puppy love happens. Talking Upwards: I’m not afraid to admit that there were a few ideas and bits of history in this book that I had to look up – and that that is one of my favourite parts of this book. Diana has written a middle grade that never talks down to younger readers – that encourages research, smarts, and innovation. The Final Word: Omega City asks readers to go on not only a classic adventure, but also an intellectual one; there are elements of The Westing Game and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe here. For adults or older readers, this one if you love rollicking journeys. For teachers or librarians, I can totally see this book being read aloud to a group – or even better, placed in a 4th, 5th, or 6th grade classroom for a curious young mind to pick up on a whim and fall in love with reading.