Betsy's Reviews > Starcross

Starcross by Philip Reeve
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Aug 07, 07

Read in August, 2007

They say science fiction for kids doesn’t sell. They say a lot of things, but this particular belief is pretty widespread. Space may be the final frontier, but as far as kidlit publishers go, literary reaches for the outer limits aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Still, there is some sci-fi that simply must turn a profit. Take Philip Reeve, for example. This is the guy who conjured up the YA “Hungry City” chronicles. Who single-handedly found a way to combine gross colonization and space travel in the seemingly effortless children’s title, “Larklight”. You simply cannot look me in the eye and tell me that an author as talented as Mr. Reeve isn’t going to get at least a couple fans here and there. And if sci-fi doesn’t sell then why on earth are we lucky enough to see the sequel to “Larklight” on our bookstore shelves? Yes, “Starcross” is here and fans of the intergalactic adventures of Myrtle, Art, and Jack Havock are bound to be pleased as we see them tackle their toughest enemies yet: The Moob.

When last we saw our heroes, siblings Myrtle and Art were living peaceably once again in their house (which happens to be a bit of highly dangerous alien handiwork, though that’s neither here nor there), Larklight. Peaceably might be a bit of a stretch, actually. At the moment decorators have descended on the old home and no one is getting any rest. After a mysterious invitation comes inviting the family to the beautiful and otherworldly Grand Hotel Starcross, the family picks up and leaves only to find things very mysterious indeed at the salon. Their old friend Jack Havock is there in disguise, paying close attention to the lady guest Miss Beauregard (and you can imagine how happy that makes Myrtle). Guests appear to have disappeared from the surroundings, and then there are the black top hats. Not merely elegant headgear, the hats are horrid alien creatures from the far future called Moobs. With plans for universal domination, they intend to open a portal to the future and allow more of their kind through so as to take over and dominate the world around them. It’ll take some pretty fancy footwork for our heroes to overcome this mind-controlling threat and save the day once more.

You know you’re in safe hands when you find the term “Amanuensis” on the very first page. Those of you who were fans of “Larklight” will find much to love in this story as well. Favorite characters return (though they have a nasty tendency to either get their minds chewed on or their bodies turned into trees), and nefarious villains outdo themselves in sheer nefariousness (not a word, I know). As per usual, Mr. Reeve is juggling a series of different genres. The Victorian boys adventure novel. Science fiction. Penny dreadfuls. To this mix you may now add “drawing room mystery”. The secret of Starcross plays out like a humdinger of a game of Clue (though you might want to add the top hat from your game of Monopoly and add it to the list of murder weapons for this particular game).

If you’re foolish enough to have not yet read “Larklight”, citing such piss poor reasoning as “I don’t do sci-fi” or “Space scares me”, overcome your personal weaknesses and give the book a shot. After that, “Starcross” is bound to please one and all. Now I feel like there’s something I’ve forgotten to mention in this review… what was it… what was it… AHA! The opinion of children! After all, this book is supposedly written for them. Well, I can attest for a fact that you won’t find any children’s reviews of “Larklight” on Amazon.com. What are we to take from that? This is one of those books that’s going to hit a very specific segment of the population. It’s not for the unwashed masses one and all. It’s for a kid here and a kid there who will find themselves sucked into Reeve’s world and never want to let go. Here’s looking forward t
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