The Captain’s Daughters, a middle-grade science fiction by Doreen D. Berger

What would you do if you were abducted by aliens, managed to escape and find your way back home, only to discover that no one knows who you are?

For most adolescents, growing up is hard enough when one has both feet planted firmly on the ground. But for mischievous, twelve-year-old sisters Diane and Robin, life is complicated further by the fact that their father, Captain William Marsh, is the commander of the Starship Polaris. Living among the stars provides a never-ending realm of creative possibility for the free-spirited girls’ pranks and adventures.

When aliens bent on profit and revenge kidnap Diane and Robin, only their indomitable spirit, ingenuity, and a common love of trouble allow the pair to escape the alien vessel. Finding their way home seems assured until the sisters realize they have been taken into a parallel universe, almost identical to their own, but with surprising differences. Suddenly faced with a family that does not recognize them, and further from home then they could ever have imagined, the sisters must evade an enemy who will stop at nothing to get them back into his evil clutches. Blocked by interstellar battles, malevolent creatures, and overwhelming obstacles, the sisters fear they may never find a way to return to their own universe and to the father they love.

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This was a fun and heartfelt story about two kids trying to find their way home. While the tension and potential danger were certainly there, they felt appropriate for the target age range. So though the topics seem like they could be too sensitive, they are handled well. No need to be afraid. I also got some major Star Trek vibes while reading this, which was awesome.

The characters felt like real people—from the protagonists to the secondary people who only showed up a few times. I got the impression there was so much more to this world than I saw, which is one of my favorite things to find in science fiction/fantasy. This is part of a series, and I’m interested to see where the adventure goes next.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this, there were a few things that tripped up my reading experience. The biggest one was the age of Diane and Robin. They were 12, but the story seemed like they should be younger (maybe 10). Their mischief didn’t match my memories of being 12 and being much more concerned with cute boys and trying to act older than I was, rather than playing harmless pranks on my parents. That said, the relationship between the girls and their father was drawn beautifully.

There were also a few moments that felt like they didn’t need to be a conflict. I won’t spoil, but there were a few things that were presented as major problems, and I found myself thinking “why don’t they just do X?” This didn’t come up a lot, but it was there. A lot of the story was also told in backstory. It was interesting to see things that happened in the past, but I kept waiting for each of those flashbacks to become relevant in the main story. Aside from just expanding on the backstory, some of them didn’t have anything else to contribute. Again, interesting, but I felt torn in a few different directions in terms of what was important.

All in all, a great story for all ages. Alternate universes are always interesting, and this is no exception. As I said, I’m interested to see where the adventure goes next and definitely recommend giving this book a try.

About Doreen D. Berger

The Captain’s Daughters is Doreen D. Berger’s first novel in a series about the adventures of the Marsh sisters, Diane and Robin. Doreen, known to her family and friends as Diane, has based the series on her relationship with her lifelong friend, Robin, and their spirited childhood escapades. Doreen lives on Long Island with her family and pets.

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