cover of EcoQueen by Joanna Measer Kanow

Devastating wildfires, droughts, and floods. Melting ice caps and rising sea levels. Climate change seems irreversible … The world needs a superhero to step in—NOW.

Following the death of her mother in a horrifying wildfire, seventeen-year-old Kora wants to ensure that not one more child loses a parent to a traumatic climate event. As the most severe possible projected climate change outcomes actually happen in real-time, rapid action is needed. But is it too late? What can a female, bi-racial, teenager with untapped superpowers do?

How about saving the planet?

Empowered by her supernatural abilities, Kora embraces her destiny as EcoQueen, the superhero of a new generation, whom the world so desperately needs. With help from her autistic twin brother, Río, she sets out on a mission to protect the people and ecosystems threatened by rising sea levels, catastrophic floods, drought, hurricanes, wildfires, mining, oil spills, and pollution across the globe.

As Kora learns to control her fantastic gifts and use them for good, she realizes the impact of environmental changes caused by humans, fossil fuels, and pollution. While Kora begins her epic journey across the planet to battle the destructive forces of climate change, she must also solve the mystery of the miraculous sacred seeds—which may just hold the secret to stopping global warming once and for all.

The stakes could not be higher for the state of the environment, it is due time for a superhero to step in—and her name is EcoQueen.

A note for parents and teachers: This low-fantasy dystopian young adult Cli-Fi novel by environmentalist, activist, Joanna Measer Kanow, helps youth readers understand the climate crisis and inspires them to take climate action in their own lives, to protect our ecosystems and contribute to a more sustainable future. Middle school teachers are encouraged to use it as part of their climate science curriculum.

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I’ve not read much clifi (which I’ve been led to believe is science fiction that’s climate based—so climate fiction), so this was sort of new territory. I’m no stranger to superheroes, though, so this book was a spin on something familiar with something new. I found the superhero aspects to be quite cool. EcoQueen’s suit and powers were an interesting take on how electricity can be both a force for good and for destruction. There’s an entire conversation to be had about just that.

While the concept and superhero parts of this book were interesting, the execution felt a bit confused. As a book about the devastating aspects of climate change, it succeeded amazingly. As a story with an interconnected series of events with an overarching plot that led to a climactic scene, it didn’t quite get there for me. EcoQueen definitely faced her fair share of conflicts, but, other than all of them being about reversing climate-related damage, they didn’t feel like parts of a whole. I kept waiting for them all to come together.

I perhaps should have said this up-front to catch anyone who believes climate change is a myth, but I’ll say it here because it relates to this paragraph. This book helped me come to the conclusion of, no matter your stance on climate change, what’s the harm in being nicer to the planet? That said, EcoQueen’s big actions, while dramatic, felt as disruptive as they were saving. I agree steps should be taken to help out the Earth. EcoQueen’s actions hit billionaires who profit off of environmental destruction, which is one thing, but I would have found the story more interesting if EcoQueen, as a hero, grappled with realizing she’d also just destroyed the jobs for hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who might be living paycheck to paycheck and will now be out of the job they need to support their family because of the destruction she caused. There are a lot of factors to consider in helping out the planet. I don’t think every book about the climate should touch on all of them, but EcoQueen felt well-suited (no pun intended) to that discussion.

All in all, this was a thought-provoking read. It prompted me to consider what else could be recycled, and I’ve taken the steps to start making that happen at my house—recycling things I didn’t even realize could be recycled, like Ziplock bags. I know I’m only one person, but I feel good about doing something that’s in my control, so if my review or reading the book inspires you to help out the planet, regardless of whether it’s in the name of climate change or not, cool. If not, thanks for reading anyway. 3.5 stars.

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