by Jason Fry
First sentence: “Tycho Hashoone was doing his math homework when the alarms started shrieking.”
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Content: There’s some intense moments, and a lot of off-screen deaths. And the names are pretty challenging to sound out. But, it’s a short book that reads quickly, and would be in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore, though I think 6-8th graders would enjoy it as well.
Tycho is part of one of the great pirating families of the Jupiter alliance. They’ve been capturing ships for booty for generations, flying the same starship, the Comet, making their name and their living. The captainship is handed down from parent to child, and the current captain, Diocletia, is Tycho’s mom. Which means that Tycho, his twin sister Yana, and their older brother, Carlo, are all in competition to be the next captain.
Lest you think that’s the focus of the book, it’s not. Even though their competition is a huge part. No, the real story is the disappearance of Jovian privateers (as the pirates are now called). When the Hashoones capture a freighter that happens to have an Earth diplomat on it (Jupiter and Earth have been at war for decades), that sets off a chain of events that will involve the Hashoones figuring out the dirty politics behind the disappearances.
On the one hand, this is freaking cool. Pirates! In Space! (or as A pointed out, a book version of Treasure Planet.) And, I like the world building that Fry did. He’s come up with some creative ideas for the future, and I liked the way the privateers/pirates balanced politics with business, just on the legal side of outlaw.
The writing was pedestrian, the competition side of the story took up too much time and what I came to consider the “real” story took too long to develop and was wrapped up too quickly. (Though that last scene was pretty dang awesome.) While I really enjoyed that this was a family business, Fry was juggling too many characters so I felt like I never really got to know any of them. And maybe this is all quibbling — I mean, will kids really care? — but it made the book a less-than-stellar read for me.