CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 4. . . . October 18, 2002
This, the first book of the "Jedi Quest" series, begins with the first mission in which Anakin and his mentor, Obi-Wan, are requested to participate. Along with three other Jedi and their young protégés or Padawans, they travel to the planet, Radnor, which has been the site of a tragic toxic disaster. Upon their arrival, they realize that the planet has been divided into two sections, one under the authority of Curi, Galen's sister, who has medical background to assist those in the quarantine section and who are sick or dying. The other section, the clear sector, is under Galen, the scientist of the lab that caused the toxic disaster.
The people are rioting as they wait to be airlifted to safety. There are not enough Bio-iso suits for the population. The Jedi go to Curi to aid in her project. They are not told that they will be unable to return from the quarantine section. The four young Jedi in training are to assist with the security of the clear sector of the planet. Immediately, both groups, who are not able to keep in contact with each other, realize that something is not right.
The planet, Avoni, under the leadership of Dol Heep, has offered transportation off the planet. The Senate, which has sent the Jedi, is also sending ships, but communication has been jammed from somewhere off the planet. Battle Droids keep attacking the Jedi and also the businesses and homes of the frightened Radnors. Someone has inside information on the evacuation, who is to be evacuated and where the ships are to land, and so that the looting is effective.
The young Jedi must work together to find the spy, stop the battle droids, and then rescue their masters. The Jedi must find a solution to the health risks, decide on Dol Heep's offer of help and then stop the invasion. Both sides arrive at similar conclusions and work together to solve the problem and successfully complete the mission.
The plot is believable and interesting. The intended age group and particularly science fiction and Star Wars fans would enjoy this book. The characters must work together and learn through the experience. The main character, Anakin, is multi-dimensional and learns a lesson about leadership. His past is revealed slowly throughout the book, but there are some questions unanswered. The reader is told that Anakin has previously been a slave and has come to the Jedi temple later than the other students. Anakin is fourteen and has made great progress. His mentor, Obi-Wan, is very believable as he understands Anakin's strengths and weaknesses. The relationship between these two is credible. The other Padawans tended to be more one-dimensional as we learn very little about them, other than their reactions on the mission.
The story is told in third person but through the eyes of Anakin. We read his thoughts and his feelings toward the other characters. The situations are explored, but, because this is a series, more will likely be developed as the stories continue. The conflict among the young Jedi is a major focus of the story. Anakin must listen to his intuition but also accept leadership from the others. The setting is very appropriate, but it is not fully developed. Description is minimal.
The genre is very appropriate for the intended age group. Some knowledge of the series would be helpful as many of the terms are not fully explained. For example, on page 5, the airspeeder is introduced, but it is not described. The language is also appropriate for this age group. There are a number of sentence fragments in the novel, particularly in the first twenty-five pages. Some are effective, but many are distracting to the forward movement of the plot.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel. The plot is interesting. The characters have some depth, and their relationships add suspense to the novel. It is timely given the revival of the Star Wars movies. Middle years children would enjoy reading this novel and others in the series.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher-librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school and a Grade 12 English teacher at W.P. Sandin Composite High School in Shellbrook, SK.
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