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The International Writers Magazine: Children's Fiction

Jupiter Williams
S.I. Martin.
Published by Hodder Children’s books on 4 October 2007
Priced £5.99
ISBN: 9780340944066

Jack Clarkson review

When I initially read the blurb for this, my first impression was that it would be a story of discrimination and slavery much like ‘A Handmaid's tale’. When I finished the first chapter however, I realised that this is what ‘A Handmaid's tale’ would have been if the main character didn’t just sit there and take it like a coward, and had been played by Samuel L Jackson! Seriously, if you mess with this guy, he will end you…

The story starts with a young black boy in a private school named Jupiter beating the proverbial crap out of a racist teacher for trying to pick on his younger brother. Soon enough karma bites him in the arse and said brother disappears mysteriously. So Jupiter sets off on a quest to find him.

I was very happy with the opening sequence, it hooked me into the book immediately and it set up the story nicely while not wasting any time on the foreplay! The plot moved quickly, almost so quickly at times you start to wonder if S.I. Martin is subtly taking the mickey. But I enjoyed every second of it. Whenever I started to think the story was getting too slow, someone would leap out at Jupiter from behind, or grab at him from the shadows with a knife in his hand, or start shooting at him and he’d be so busy dealing with that, that he wouldn’t notice all the explosions happening behind him.

It does appear far-fetched at times, which led to a feeling that S.I. Martin is trying to emulate the plots in big budget action movies, like some kind of Jerry Bruckheimer adaptation of "The Colour Purple". It won’t turn any heads that haven’t already been turned by "To kill a Mockingbird", but you will probably have more fun reading it.

His writing style suits the fast paced action whilst not skimping on the evocative detail of the setting and characters, preferring to show you rather than tell you what the people and places are like, whilst still having time to make some extremely funny jokes when it doesn’t get in the way. A scene involving a discussion of theology between two drunken philosophers springs to mind.

My main criticism would be that it didn’t seem to have any serious message to it, but maybe my English course has been feeding me too many "Worthy" books that don’t entertain you so much as ram its morals down your throat.
S.I. Martin knows didactic stories get in the way of the overall fun and doesn’t try to waste any of our time trying to preach to the audience, instead he tells us the story of a young boy who does everything to find his brother, despite the whole world being against him, even if it means popping a few kneecaps with a flintlock pistol.

It was good, clean, quick read that I managed to finish in one sitting instead of going to sleep to get up for my lectures the next morning! And for that and all the explosions and guns and the total lack of educational content, I commend him. Now if only he’d added some hot girls then it would be perfect for a film adaptation… I’m sure Mr Bruckheimer will have some added in when he gets round to it!
© Jack Clarkson October 2007

Jack is studying Creative Writing at the University of Portsmouth

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