There are many things to love about Jason Fry’s middle grade science fiction series, The Jupiter Pirates. The story is fast-paced, it takes place in an intriguing world, and it features space pirates! What’s not to love? If I have one complaint, it’s that I have to wait a year between books. *stomps foot angrily*
The first novel in the series, Hunt for the Hydra, came out last December and I took to the characters right away. The second installment, The Curse of the Iris, catches up with the Hashoone family two years later as they search for the long-last cache of a pirate spaceship called Iris.
Did I like the second book as much as the first? Read on to find out! (Spoilers: I totally did.)
Just like in Hunt of the Hydra, the most appealing aspects of The Curse of the Iris are the characters. The Hashoone family is delightful to read about, as is the whole world of space pirates — excuse me, privateers. I love the world Fry has created; it truly feels like the old naval pirates have been transported a thousand years forward and landed in the Jupiter System.
Speaking of the Jupiter system, as someone who has grown up reading the Star Wars Expanded Universe, it’s a really neat change to have this series take place all inside our solar system, with the different planets creating their own “countries” and “systems.” In Curse, the Jupiter system faces a secession crisis not unlike the one that created the United States of America, and later brought upon the American Civil War. One of the characters even remarks that perhaps the people of Saturn should have their own country; after all, didn’t the people of Jupiter successfully break away from Earth? I love that Fry brings up these sorts of moral issues in middle grade books.
Fry isn’t afraid to shy away from other moral questions, such as what makes a privateer different from a pirate, and how privateers can claim to be honest people when they earn a dishonest living. Questions regarding the Hashoone family’s past are brought up and addressed with heartbreaking honesty, and I love the crisis of conscience Tycho is forced to face.
Speaking of Tycho, he’s a little older and wiser here, and it’s clear in his actions throughout the book. I did find myself wishing from time to time that we got to see the action through a different point of view, specifically Yana. She’s such a neat character, and having alternating POVs between her and Tycho would bring an interesting dynamic to the story. Curse does give us more information about Diocletia and Mavry, who are quickly becoming one of my favorite Space Married couples. I’d love to read a story about the two of them becoming a couple and chronicling Diocletia’s ascendancy to captain. Huff is the usual Huff, and would it be wrong to say I wanted to smack Carlo a few times? He’s definitely full of himself, and someone who needs to be taken down a few pegs.
As for the story, once again it’s a fast-paced and easy read. The stakes are higher this time around, and I’m really interested to see where Fry takes the crew as the series goes on. This is definitely a series I’m going to have to re-read each year before the new book comes out, and one I’m looking forward to reading straight through once it’s finished.
If you know someone in the middle grade age range, or you just enjoy reading novels intended for everyone, definitely pick up The Curse of the Iris. Even if you’re an adult, it’s a rollicking good time. The novel is available in hardcover and ebook formats on December 16.
An advanced copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins Publishers for review purposes.