________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 12 . . . . November 18, 2011


The Jinx.

D.F. Lamont.
E-book on iTunes, Kindle and as softcover at http://thejinxbook.tumblr.com
123 pp., pbk., $14.99 (softcover).
ISBN 978-1-257-99506-6.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

** /4



“What date was that? And where?” Daedalus stood up and strode towards a blackboard, which he flipped over. It was covered with scrawls and arcs over. “We can recalculate from that date – and even that time, and the location, within a few yards. This is excellent, excellent!”

He stood in front of the blackboard, alternating between checking against figures in a worn leather-bound notebook and the board. He frowned down at his notebook.

“No. That is terrible, terrible. We’ve got about eighteen hours – no, thirty-six or so – to get there. I know now where the bolt is going to strike. About a day’s drive from here, in the side of a crater created by an old meteor. Now I know when.” “Can we just sit it out? Why would we go closer?”

“If we do it right, this is the key to getting rid of your jinx, and the [sic] getting the whole world back to normal. It won’t be easy. With the stream of probability flux at its peak, the place will be crawling with Chaons. And if that wasn’t enough, at that location, the Ut, led by Dr. Zixhu, have spent the last three decades building a facility with technology to try to harness the disruption. Zixhu and the Ut will try to use their machine to stop the bolt from grounding, so that he can keep the world out of balance and try to give order the upper hand. Bloody fool. It’s like trying to use an earthquake to generate electricity.”

“How do you know his machine won’t work?”

Daedalus’ shoulders slumped forward and he suddenly seemed much smaller. “Because I built it for him.”

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.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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