Book Review: Jack Jetstark’s Intergalactic Freakshow by Jennifer Lee Rossman

Publishing Date: December 2018

Publisher: World Weaver

ISBN: 9781732254633

Genre: Scifi

Rating: 2.2/5

Publisher’s Description: Jack Jetstark travels the universe to seek out the descendants of superpowered freaks created long ago by VesCorp scientists. The vibrations encoded in a particular song transform the members of Jack’s crew into a firebreather and an angel, a wildman and telepathic conjoined triplets, so they hide the truth of who they really are with the theatrics of a carnival.

Review: This was sometimes compelling, consistently erratic and disappointing in delivery.

This needed a heavy dose of editing to winnow out the wandering chaff, create a cogent story line and imbue a semblance of logical progression where/when needed. Not that you can’t follow the story line as it is not very complex, it just leaves you to fill in the gaps or accept that things have changed without explanation. Not incredibly intrusive but just enough to leave you scratching your head. Take for instance Jack’s sudden turn at being a revolutionary leader making grandiose speeches when moments ago he was a carnival ring leader. Or that his revolutionary love just can’t stop loving power more, but is self-aware enough to know it but does nothing about it. Just begs someone else to kill her. Huh?

The idea of varying genetic constructs that exist in the Universe is truly compelling. These abilities are showcased in full yet lack a sense of poignancy as they are left drifting among base emotions on a back drop of patterned hero noir. Yes, ol’ Jack is a reluctant hero with shades of moral ambiguity, alienated from society and a generally poor outlook. But boy does he rise from the ashes of self-pity only to find regret, betrayal and recrimination. Ho hum.

At the end of the day I could not decide if this was SciFi or Fantasy. The SciFi aspect was not rendered in enough detail to make you say “Wow, this Universe is plausible.”? There is just a high level of reader acceptance built in. “Hey, don’t go asking questions….just have some fun.” Yeah who cares if a whole city can float, or that fuel? is used for inter-galactic travel or that moons have habitable atmospheres or that people can teleport if so genetically inclined. Right?

For a first novel this is pretty good and shows some creative talent. Someone just needed to have a honest conversation with this author about why this novel needs some in-depth editing to make a salable and cogent read.  The turning point that took this novel into average-ville is when Jack takes on a demeanor that really doesn’t fit well or match what we know about the man. These shifts in story line from purveying freaks to grungy locals for a dime, to Dudley Doorite, just seemed a bit too easy of an out. What Jack and his cohorts lacked was depth and sadly, I just didn’t care what happened to them.