CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 12 . . . . November 18, 2011
Stephen Allan Grayson is 13-years-old and just beginning grade 8. On the first day of school, he has a bike accident and things just go from bad to worse. Not only is Stephen having a run of bad luck, he seems to jinx everyone around him as well. In desperation, he decides to leave home and keep his family safe while he figures out what is going on. However, his escape leads him to meet an odd character named Daedalus and to become involved in a cosmic struggle between the Ut, who are determined to bring order to the world, and the Chaons, monsters whose motive appears to be hunting down Stephen.
D. F. Lamont’s novel contains elements of adventure, suspense and fantasy mixed with a classic science-fiction struggle between the forces of good and evil. Stephen seems like a pretty ordinary kid who is unwittingly caught up in something he can neither understand nor control.
Lamont’s descriptions of the Uts and the Chaons are lively and vivid. Stephen, however, is less clear, and just how he came to be cursed is uncertain. Daedalus, too, is something between a mentor and a mad scientist, but the how and why of his background are never revealed.
The plot races from one adventure and doomsday scenario to the next, complete with helicopters, cars racing to kidnap Stephen and explosions as well as calamities such as hailstorms, lightning strikes and more than one earthquake. Science-fiction lends itself to action, but the plot also needs more cohesion and continuity than Lamont presents. Cause and effect relationships have been overlooked in favour of events which, although exciting in themselves, seem to occur too haphazardly and coincidentally.
Many of the shortcomings mentioned are understandable in a first novel, and, despite them, The Jinx will appeal to its intended audience of kids ages 9-13.
Ann Ketcheson, who lives in Ottawa, ON, is a retired teacher-librarian and high school teacher of English and French.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.