CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 3. . . .September 18, 2009
Conrad Viscous and Knowlton Cabbage endure daily bullying, not just from their classmates, but from teachers and a bus driver who turn a blind eye. Their home lives are even bleaker: Conrad lives with an apathetic mother, and Knowlton’s parents are seriously uptight and critical. It’s no wonder that the two friends escape into the world of the sci-fi TV show, Infinite Destiny. One day Conrad activates his soulblade –– a beam of energy extending from his hand –– by accident, and he realizes the vivid dreams he’s been having of alien warfare are more than random noise from his unconscious. Once he has used the soulblade, his presence becomes known to Cyscope who has been hunting for Conrad’s previous incarnation, Hestar, for years. Cyscope comes to Earth, possesses a human body, and begins to hunt for Conrad/Hestar in order to find out where he has hidden some intergalactic treasure. Conrad is whisked away from danger by a bounty hunter, Javix, but is determined to return to protect his friends. He fights hard but is troubled by the violence he must use, killing two possessed bodies, and seeing his mother’s body taken over by one of the Hunters fighting with Cyscope. At first, Hestar is in control of Conrad’s body as he does battle, but, as the story progresses, Conrad takes over and decides to act according to his moral code, stunning rather than killing his enemies. Conrad and Knowlton overcome Cyscope, and Conrad’s mentor, Pakfrida, arrives in a spaceship to spirit the two boys off Earth for further adventures.
The garish cover and B-movie title of Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters suggest a spoof, but this is straight-up science fiction. It is a lighthearted work with some dark elements, a bit of moral questioning, and a semblance of an alternate world. The emphasis is on pursuit and battle, with the reasons for the conflict taking a distant second place. The book is also funny, especially Knowlton’s and Conrad’s glib dialogue. However, the characters’ wisecracks sometimes detract from their emotional depth. It is stretching credibility that any 10-year-old boy, no matter how many balled-up bits of paper and overripe fruit have been hurled at him in school, would be able to crack jokes when an alien villain is threatening his life. Similarly, the bleak and even abusive family situations that the boys face is not explored meaningfully.
Recommended with reservations.
Andrea Galbraith is a writer, librarian and parent based in Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.