All 2021 reviews - Shastrix Books

2021

All reviews

To Lose The Earth

To Lose The Earth

Kirsten Beyer

16th January 2021

Kirsten Beyer’s final Star Trek: Voyager novel wraps up what has been an epic literary adventure over the past twelve years, as the crew take a more intentional second trip to explore the Delta Quadrant.

This feels very much like part two of a single story with a large gap, with all the events following on from things that happened in the previous novel. Given I read the last novel over two and a half years ago (due to the author’s “distraction” working on some TV series), I struggled to remember some of the details.

Like many of Beyer’s novels, there is a strong theme of family, and in particular here one of communication, that’s reflected in many of the plot threads for different characters and at different scales. Beyer hits the right Star Trek notes in producing an episode that tells an entertaining story while also providing a moral lesson.

In terms of the plot, while there are many aspects, the most prominent of the TV characters is Harry Kim, and he’s the star of about 45% of this novel, with another 45% given to one of the novel-series-original characters, and the remainder spread amongst both the old and the new. For a finale, I felt that there was perhaps too little for some of the older familiar characters, but that might be me reading it in the context of a long separation rather than considering the whole ten-book drama.

The end felt a little abrupt, but that might be because my reading speed increased - though there are details that have already faded from my memory after only a couple of days. But it definitely felt like a decent and optimistic endpoint, leaving the door ajar for more maybe one day - once the author stops adding to canon in potentially contradictory ways with her increasingly prominent TV writing career.

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The Jungle Pyramid

The Jungle Pyramid

Franklin W Dixon & Vincent Buranelli

9th January 2021

After their father calls them in to help investigate a gold theft, the Hardys once again set off on international travels to solve their fifty-sixth mystery.

The format follows the now familiar pattern of the 70s novels, with exotic locales and exploration playing a large role in the storytelling and much investigation taking a back seat.

As they go, not a bad story, but not a particularly remarkable one either.

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The Witchmaster's Key

The Witchmaster's Key

Franklin W Dixon

3rd January 2021

This fifty-fifth book in the series is possibly the most absurd so far. The Hardys travel to the British Isles for an adventure that despite being set in the 1970s seems to depict a society from the 1770s.

I had just been saying in a review from a previous book in the series how amazingly informative it seemed about the countries they were visiting, and I really have to reconsider now that I’ve seen their attempt to depict a location I actually know something about.

The plot is implausibly silly, and really doesn’t hold up at all. The cover art on my copy is also ridiculous, with the least realistic illustration of Stonehenge I think I’ve ever seen - it’s like someone has been given a vague description and not bothered to look at a photograph.

Probably the worst plot in the entire series that I’ve read so far.

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The Mysterious Caravan

The Mysterious Caravan

Franklin W Dixon

2nd January 2021

A remarkable entry in the Hardy Boys series, as with book 54 arrives the first black character who joins the brothers as a friend and assistant throughout. It also features the first female character to also accompany them for part of the story, rather than just being someone to provide them with food.

The plot however follows the trend in previous novels of becoming rather convoluted, and feels like it’s just become a backdrop to the international travel that the characters now get to do.

In this way it reminds me a bit of James Bond films, which are clearly constructed around the locations around the world that they think will make good settings. But the storytelling doesn’t bring itself to the same level.

The travel aspects however do feel impressive and fairly thoroughly researched (although I have no specific knowledge to back this up), which does well to present the places visited in a way that feels authentic and only a tiny bit racist in places.

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