01/05/2009. Contributed by Gareth D Jones
pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books. 272 page hardback. Price: $24.95 (US), $32.95 (CAN). ISBN: 0-345-48504-1.
Being part of a long-running series, 'Trouble Magnet' suffers from the unavoidable problem of relying on previous volumes for its back story. I guess this isn't a problem in the main as readers of this book are likely to be 'Pip And Flinx' fans anyway.
It didn't cause too much difficulty for me as this is a standalone story, but it did occasionally leave me confused. Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable tale of mischief and adventure that with the cast of characters being mostly youngsters I guess is aimed at the YA market.
Flinx has powerful and mysterious empathic powers and on his way to save the galaxy, he stops off at a seedy planet to see for himself whether mankind is worth saving. This seemed to me a rather flimsy premise for the book. Although the ensuing adventure is not a bad bit of futuristic fun, I was left with the constant nag that the whole tale had no point. Initially Flinx, with his pet mini-dragon Pip along, seems an invincible character, able to easily protect himself from any danger.
Just when this invincibility had sapped any sense of peril from the story, his limitations and flaws are revealed, making his character much more sympathetic. Unfortunately, and again this is down to the book being part of a series, he then keep getting saved by deus ex machina that left by dumbfounded. Perhaps for long-term fans of the series they aren't such a shock, but even so they mean that Flinx is back to being effectively invincible.
As with 'Quofum' that I reviewed earlier in the year, the author has a tendency to repeat things unnecessarily and this starts to get irritating. In this case, Flinx's girlfriend waiting somewhere on another planet is mentioned numerous times, so why doesn't he forget this plot, which has no point anyway, and go back to her? Also driven home incessantly is Flinx's desire to find something worth saving among mankind. So why go to the seediest planet? The whole set-up seems contrived to fit in what is essentially an entertaining story of a youthful gang of street thieves.
So, for 'Pip And Flinx' fans, another exciting book that adds more elements to the series' overall development. To the rest of us, an entertaining enough story that seems to have no basis, with lots of odd things happening for no reason. I'll be looking at the final two books in the series next month.
Gareth D Jones
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