Reviews: The Jupiter Pirates: Curse of the Iris
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
The Jupiter Pirates : Curse of the Iris by Jason Fry (HarperCollins, Expected Publication December 2014)
When you really love the first book in a series, there’s always the question of whether the next book will live up to the freshness and “magic” that the original work introduced. I admit that I approach series with a mixture of pure readerly excitement and reviewer caution. The first book in a series is a new creation–the second is diving back into that creation–recapping the important stuff for new readers and finding the momentum that will keep the story moving forward with similar energy and excitement. Not every author succeeds at doing this. But some authors? Some manage to write something even better.
Two years after the events in The Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra (December 2013), the crew of the Shadow Comet is back! It’s the year 2895 and humankind has expanded their civilization to further reaches of their own solar system. Citizens of the Jovian union have been in conflict with Earth for years, and the Hashoones are a family of privateers that work for the Jovian Union and seize ships belonging to Earth and her allies. Fourteen-year-old Tycho, his twin sister Yana and older brother Carlos are still in competition as to who will ultimately become the next captain of their ship. Things have not been particularly sterling for this family of privateers since their last adventure. Pickings have been slim, and the crew is itching for some kind of excitement and challenge. And that challenge arrives in the form of a treasure hunt. When the Shadow Comet encounters an old ship out in space with clues to an ancient treasure, it proves irresistible to the three Hashoone siblings. The treasure of the Iris was rumored to be worth quite a large sum indeed . . . and it was a treasure that their great-grandfather had a hand in stealing. But delving into the past for treasure may also dig up old family secrets and the Hashoones aren’t the only ones who want to discover where the treasure of the Iris is hidden. . . .
If you enjoyed the first Jupiter Pirates book, I think I can safely say you’ll continue to enjoy the series as it unrolls in this book. Jason Fry has confident stride in his storytelling that is pure pleasure–even for this reading pro. Fans who’ve read the first book will have little trouble picking the story again, but new readers shouldn’t find themselves swimming blind for too long either, I found this to be a second book that can stand on its own. A space-adventure featuring family drama, political and criminal entanglements and a solid treasure hunt as its main story arc. It’s the kind of science fiction or space opera that so rarely is done right for kids–but succeeds here mightily. Given the fact that our characters are two years older, this second story is just on the edge of YA territory, but I think it still falls solidly into middle grade readership.
First off, I love visiting a universe where we can see what’s going on to pilot a spaceship–plenty of nuts and bolts, mundane particulars. These are stories that give you vivid visuals of not only the external, but the internal make up of The Shadow Comet. Rather than give us a glossed over version of the craft and its workings, the author makes you feel like its a real working vehicle–not a spaceship made with magic and moonbeams, but a craft put together with sweat and spit and held together by improvisation and duct tape. These aren’t show pieces, straight off the lot, but the real deal. In fact, these crafts put me in mind of the space-western anime series Cowboy Bebop, or Joss Whedon’s Firefly series.
Tycho is our protagonist, though we get to know his butt-kicking, take-no-prisoners sister Yana and his older more practically inclined brother, Carlo. Tycho is the thoughtful one of the three–the one readers are really getting to know and understand. He’s growing into who he’ll be–facing tough choices about his own actions and desires versus how they’ll affect others. Jason Fry has done a marvelous job of putting Tycho into some difficult positions that cause him to question the pirate philosophy his family embraces, and beginning to reveal a darker and dangerous path of intrigue and deals that Tycho has to navigate. He’s no longer a boy just learning how to be a privateer, he’s a young man coming into his own, taking initiative . . .and maybe making some worrying decisions. Likewise, Tycho’s family is shown to be far from perfect, with their own secrets and scandals from the past.
I can’t really predict where any of this will go, which is a lovely thing all on its own. Too often it’s pretty easy to guess where a story arc will end up, but Jason Fry isn’t revealing all his cards in one shot.
**Minor spoiler and speculation**
There’s a slimy character in this book named DeWise that I just feel is going to be trouble for Tycho in the future. Maybe it’s just the fact that he reminds me of Mr Morden from Babylon 5, but I don’t trust him and his plans at all. I hope Tycho can steer clear of DeWise in the future, but I fear we haven’t seen the last of him!
**end of spoiler**
I will point out to readers who may like their science fiction strongly based on actual science fact, this series does take liberties–a fact Jason Fry freely admits in putting these books together. But for readers who enjoy a good adventure, particularly space adventure, this should be a good fit. If you haven’t tried these books yet, you may want to start with the first one, but you can still dive in without reading the original. Be prepared for fun, treasure and pirates! Arrrr!
Want to find out more? Check out the author’s Official Jupiter Pirates website!
Also check out my interview with Jason Fry here.
Note: An advanced uncorrected proof was provided by the author.
Publication Date: Expected Publication, December 2014
Recommended for grades 4 to 8
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on May 26, 2014, in General Posts, Reviews and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Reading, reviews, Science Fiction, sequels, series, SF. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.