Book Review: Jabin and the Space Pirates by Beverly Allen

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Jabin and the Space PiratesJabin and the Space Pirates

Author: Beverly Allen

Publisher: Taylor Street Books

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Blurb:

In the space colony of New Wales, the pirate attacks are both relentless and merciless.

Having lost both his parents, Jabin has been adopted by his austere and spiteful uncle and aunt who live in the space colony of New Wales which is riven with religious and political rivalry, and prey to the vicious maraudings of pirates whose cruelty and greed are beyond all imagination.

When Jabin volunteers to surrender himself to a pirate raiding party to save a friend, he does so believing that nothing can be worse than his current suffering. 

However, he is soon to discover that things can always get worse when the stakes are high, the rewards are vast and slave labour is there for the taking.

When the King of New Wales is assassinated, the colony threatens to collapse into total anarchy, leaving the pirates free reign to mutilate, kill and profit as they will, but the forces of law and order sent out from Earth are getting ready to fight back, and Jabin could have a vital part to play in the ensuing war if he can only stay alive.

My thoughts:

Okay. If I’m being honest, I have to say that this book really disappointed me. Not to say that it was badly written; the writing in the book is perfectly fine. What disappointed me most was the lack of space pirates. After all, the book has “space pirates” in the title. So, you know, I was expecting space pirates. The marauding kind; the ones who fly around in space hostilely boarding other ships and taking their loot and all that. You know, doing what pirates do. In space.

Instead, this book has some terribly bad people who essentially run the slave trade. They’re  not really pirates, they’re more like warlords. And, you know, there’s nothing wrong with warlords. Warlords are plenty terrible (and terrifying), what with the maiming and killing and torturing and all that. But a warlord does not a space pirate make, and that was what disappointed me.

This book actually involved a rather complicated political plot, devised by one of the pirate/warlords and a local high-ranking member of New Wales society (no spoilers, so I can’t say who). And yes, it was an interesting plot element. But to be perfectly honest, it seemed rather out of place in a book about a teenage boy (Jabin) who didn’t feel like he belonged anywhere. And, really, he had no part in the political plot. When it came to scenes that included Jabin and New Wales’s ruling elite, Jabin was just sort of…there.

And then, we get to the last half of the book. Which really threw me for a WTF moment. Okay, let me explain (I’ll try to be as un-spoilerish as possible — highlight to read).

Basically, New Wales is a planet (yes, it’s a planet, even though it doesn’t really seem that way) that is run by churches. Think Tudor history, with the Protestants vs Catholics thing, only now they’re called Chapel and Church (it’s not that hard to figure out which is which). The Chapel side is almost Puritan in their lifestyle, which further highlights the differences between the two camps. (Pay attention, kids, this is an important part of the political turmoil.)

Jabin lives with his aunt and uncle, who are…well, they’re basically jackasses. They’re mean, they’re spiteful, they won’t tolerate anyone not thinking like they do, and they’re angry at the universe. About everything. And they make Jabin’s life hell, and they seem to like doing it. So when a band of pirates, led by a warlord/pirate, swoops into their village and rounds up some juicy teenage boys to go be slaves on some rich dude’s plantation, Jabin volunteers to take another child’s place. Because hey, it can’t be any worse than living with Evil Aunt and Evil Uncle, right?

But then stuff happens, people die, the military moves in, yada yada.

So. After Jabin has been rescued from the warlord/pirate, he’s taken to the base of the Terran military garrison that’s currently stationed on New Wales. And there, the commander…adopts him. Which is great and all, because truly, Jabin deserves to belong and to be loved.

But the last half of the book pretty much focuses on that part of the plot. The warlord/pirate doesn’t make an appearance again, and is maybe mentioned once or twice.

So yeah…what happened to the pirates?!

Now, again, this book isn’t poorly written. The author does have talent. But I did feel as if the author wrote two separate books and then smooshed them together. Personally, I think a book only about the political turmoil on New Wales and the plot to overthrow the ruling family would’ve been interesting enough on its own. Alternatively, a book only about Jabin trying to escape the warlord/pirates would’ve also been very interesting by itself. And if they were actual pirates, doing piratical things in space on their pirate spaceships, it would’ve sold me. But as it was, unfortunately, I can’t say that I enjoyed this book.

Of course, you might enjoy it. Feel free to give it a read!

Rating: 2 out of 5

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