I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for a review.
Crewe Chase and the Jet Reapers would be better named Crewe Chase and the Anger Problem. Hailed as fantasy novel on the level of Harry Potter and the X-Men Origin comics, I was thrilled to read this novel. The adverts have greatly exaggerated what the reader will receive from this novel, which is disappointing because I would have loved to read a Harry Potter/X-men Origin/Engrossing Fiction novel.
The prologue is great, you have high hopes for a great, new magical series. That should be in a fantasy short story collection; it is intense, dark, and engaging.
But, that is just the prologue.
Sisco’s world-building is mediocre. Harry Potter and X-Men are greats because they swept you away into their world. Gringotts and Hogwarts were places that you stayed in far after the comics, books, movies, and trips to the filming sites / the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You loved the characters, the world, the story. You wanted to be magical or genetically evolved. You started a book and ended a relationship that you revisit often.
The tension in the story relies solely on ignorance (just pure lack of information given to the reader) and the drama between the main character and the women around him. (“Ooh, she hates me. I don’t know why; I am a good guy. She says she is taking care of me but she is crazy.” Seriously, this for 80% of the novel.)
This is a university – with a school nerd, a school dance, and other boarding school nonsense. Apparently, magical people take a bit longer to mature?
This book has very little to offer a female reader. The castle is given a paragraph of imagery. A castle. A HUGE CASTLE. One paragraph. The three female characters have a paragraph every time they enter the story. The tightness of the shirt worn, the cut of the shirt, the level of makeup used, how hot versus how crazy they are. Seriously, HUGE castle and I know there is a hall blackened by dragon fire and tall ceilings and a portal room. Three young women and I know what they look like, what they wear if they are Chase’s type or not and WHY not. The only thing I know about Crewe is that he is decent looking. His best friend is tall and gawky, no idea about the other two close friends he has but they are NEVER described. The role of the females in this novel is to be subjects of mystery or to be the victim to be saved. We also perpetuate the myth that if a nice guy likes you, it is your DUTY to entertain him. Not liking a guy is portrayed as tossing him aside, too stupid to see his strengths, shallow, or missing an opportunity. Obviously, girls have zero reasons to not like a guy that is your friend unless she is a shallow cow; but telling her off will change her mind. (I have decided to skip the very clear implications that women should have cookies baked or dinner cooked.)
It might have less to offer a male reader. You get some eye candy in the female characters. But, at no point do you get any depth. The mystery of a person’s intent is not depth. The main character is reactive. Despite being the most powerful wizard and one of the most intelligent students in the castle, which is at times humble and at times very egotistical about in a way that makes no sense, he reacts to situations with rage and violence. (Yes, like a steroid abuser.) A bully is attacking the victim girl? Threaten and violently react. Obviously. Someone is sabotaging you? Launch a bias and completely shallow investigation, assume a guilty party, and attack them out of anger because you didn’t get what you felt you deserved. The idea that males only have anger and impulse in their toolkit for handling situations is as bad as (if not, worse than) the myth a girl is a mystery or victim or a bitch. The one male character with personality is obsessed with a girl and constantly knocked down for his personality. They guy needed better friends than Crewe.
The first 95% of the novel mentions the Jet Reapers only a couple times. A single chapter, less than 2% of the novel, reveals them to be a sect of fighters that are supremacist and extremists.
The author appears to be setting up a series about the dangers of prejudice from both the ruling class and of the minority. The cycle of war, hatred, and prejudice seems to be a clear theme. And, given the difficulties that lay ahead in our lifetimes, those are very important topics to discuss.
It would have been more effective if the character was fully developed. If anger and revenge were not the ONLY things he felt. People joining supremacist are more than angry, vengeful drones.
-A Bookish Girl