Beach Lane Books, 2014. 978-1442451100
Synopsis: Jasper Dash has always lived a comfortable life with his mother, exploring space, creating inventions of the future, and journeying to strange lands with his friends. But there’s something missing in his life; a strong, male presence absent from his existence that has left Jasper to wonder who is father is. Despite his mother’s explanations and warnings, Jasper builds a teleportation device that will take him fifteen light years from Earth, across the galaxy to discover his parentage.
Why I picked it up: It was on a “New Books” display at my library and I don’t think I have enough ‘boy books’ in my repertoire.
Why I finished it: While the story had no shortage of excitement and ray guns, there was a story-within-a-story bit that made it hard to get through. And the other side story wasn’t particularly interesting to boot. What I like about these books is the pure energy and imagination of the characters, and while there was a lot of imagination, I found the energy lagging significantly and that was another factor that made the book easy to put down between chapters. The premise was intriguing, but the execution could have been better. Jasper Dash has always been a boy ahead of his time, but lately he’s been feeling like nothing he does matters, despite what his friends try to do to cheer him up. Plus, he’s always been the kind of boy that listens and obeys his mother. But when she tells him not to use his teleportation booth to find the being that shot a concentrated beam of energy from the Horsehead Nebula that resulted in his conception, Jasper decides that he’s had enough of being good and it’s time that he set out on his own. The reader can totally identify with Jasper’s troubles and the desire to disobey his parent, but there’s something about his character that tells us right from the start that he’s going to do the right thing and there’s something a little bit…boring about it. For all the book’s edge-of-your-seat action, there’s a certain predictability to the story and as a reader, that sort of turns me off. If I know where the story is going, I’m less likely to keep going. But keep going I did, and while the ending wasn’t what I initially expected, I still sorta saw it coming. Anderson is a gifted writer with an impressive body of work, and so much of this book felt lazy. Lazy writing makes for lackluster reading. Additionally, the asides that create the story-within-a-story interrupted the action and might have been better served as an appendix to Jasper’s tale. Much like Jasper’s science fair bust at the beginning of the story, this book fails to deliver the promised mystery and excitement, even if it does have far too many ray guns for its own good.
Other related materials: Whales on Stilts! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Agent Q, or The Smell of Danger! (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; Zombie Mommy (A Pals in Peril Tale) by M.T. Anderson, illustrations by Kurt Cyrus; The Norumbegan Quartet books by M.T. Anderson; Percy Jackson and the Olympians books by Rick Riordan; The Heroes of Olympus books by Rick Riordan; Spirit Animals books; Warriors: Dawn of the Clans books by Erin Hunter, illustrations by Wayne McLoughlin