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JACK BLANK AND THE SECRET WAR by Matt Myklusch

JACK BLANK AND THE SECRET WAR

From the Jack Blank series, volume 2

By Matt Myklusch

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4169-9564-7
Publisher: Aladdin

Myklusch squanders much of the promise of series opener Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation (2010) with this unwieldy middle volume.

Intercepted messages indicate the mysterious Rüstov will spring some nefarious surprise upon the Imagine Nation (a land populated by “superheroes, ninjas, androids, and aliens”) in just five days, putting a deadline on young Jack’s efforts to counter the invader’s insidious computer virus. Some traces of the inspired whimsy that animated the earlier episode remain: Jack invents “Nuclear Knuckles” to crank up his fighting prowess for instance, and he encounters Lorem Ipsum, a texting teenaged superhero whose power compels her victims to speak only faux-Latin gibberish. Neither they nor occasional bursts of comics-style hyperviolence are enough to rev up a labored, wandering plot that eventually culminates in a climax featuring lots of standing around for talky explanations and exchanges. (An explosive closing twist is described only in retrospect.) The fluid prose style may carry patient readers through, though familiarity with the first volume is a must; even veterans may need reminders of Jack’s background, the significance of a certain major character who turns out to have been only temporarily killed off in the previous episode or even why the Rüstov are considered a threat. Myklusch promises a closing, or at least a next, volume in 2012.

The wheels are grinding, but they haven’t quite fallen off yet. (Fantasy. 11-13)