Earthman Jack vs. The Secret Army by Matthew Kadish

Earthman Jack vs. The Secret Army

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Kadish’s follow-up volume to Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet (2013) sends its heroes into the heart of the Regulus Empire.

After defeating the Deathlord Supreme Zarrod, 15-year-old Jack Finnegan and his heroic friends—professor Green, Scallywag the Red, Heckubus Moriarty, and Grohm the Rognok—have escaped the Ghost Planet. Traveling in the Ancients’ miraculous Earthship, they escort Princess Glorianna (formerly a student named Anna) back to the Regulus Empire and to the planet Omnicron Prime, where she will rule. The sprawling, technologically advanced world celebrates Jack as a hero, but Anna, whom he deeply loves, insists that her duties to the galactic realm preclude their future together. Eventually, Chief of Intelligence Phineas Alabaster learns of Jack’s devotion and asks him to cozy up to the Legacy families who are ruthlessly competing to marry into the throne: the Evenstars and the Skyborns. As Jack dates Kimlee Evenstar and befriends Mourdock Skyborn, he becomes entangled in Omnicron’s deadly politics and learns that the Deathlords’ reach is greater and more insidious than he previously imagined. After multiple assassination attempts throw things into chaos, Anna begins enforcing her rule with suspicious brutality. With Jack’s friends scattered across Omnicron and his Earthship held by the Maguffyn Corporation, who can help him expose the secret army manipulating the empire? Author Kadish uses his flair for humor, tightly threaded plots, and nerdy trivia to widen the scope of his YA space opera. Although the tone mostly revels in goofball wit, some self-aware cheekiness occasionally appears; for example, one character likens the previous Earthman Jack adventure to “a bad piece of fantasy fiction someone wrote to entertain simple-minded beings of questionable worthiness to society.” The cultural references, meanwhile, turn the novel into a Grand Central Station of sci-fi weirdness (including an apparent nod to 1980s TV character Max Headroom). Kadish’s cinema worship sometimes feels like a narrative crutch; for example, the same Ghostbusters gag opens and nearly closes the story. However, some of the characters temper the silliness with heart and intelligence. A cliffhanger ending provides an ideal place for readers of this kaleidoscopic saga to catch their breath.

A veritable carnival of geeky sci-fi delights.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2015
Page count: 644pp
Publisher: Twelve Oaks Media
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2015


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