Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
The Jediran Quest is a sci-fi adventure novel by Cal Davis for young adults and teenagers.
The book follows preteen students Braven, Khara, Dirk, Whisper, and Jaurice as they find themselves stranded over 200 kilometers from the nearest colony following a fierce, freak storm. What's worse: they're separated from their teacher and all other adults!
A book like this is inevitably going to have a lot of similarities to other kid team-up stories like The Goonies, Super 8, Rugrats, Recess, or even The Last Crystal by former OCA winner Frances Schoonmaker. You'll always get some stock, archetypal characters like the cool leader, the comforting female voice of reason, the smart one, the annoying one who imperils everyone else, and the dysfunctional family members who are usually siblings.
If we were going to compare The Jediran Quest to any one work of fiction, it would be The Magic School Bus, particularly the episode in which Ms. Frizzle and her class take a field trip to outer space only for the class to be separated from her and put in peril.
The cast of The Jediran Quest is likewise forced to rely on their own intuition, will to survive, teamwork, and plain luck.
What's interesting about this book is that despite being written for younger people, it gets quite dark sometimes. It features hints of mature content near the end and some grotesque descriptions of things like bacterial infection and injury near the middle. So, be warned. Put this into perspective: about 80% of this book is Magic School Bus-in-space, then you suddenly get blindsided with small-pox-in-space and attempted... assault. It's a bit of tonally inconsistent in that sense. However, it doesn't quite get so descriptive that it becomes R or M-rated. A lot is implied.
And, to the author's credit, you need to put your characters in peril. That's where tension, suspense, and drama come from. We were worried that this book was going to be one of those in which the stakes were high-in-name-only. That wasn't the case. The characters actually face a lot of danger.
One source of danger that is constantly present is the mysterious creature known as the “creeping mire,” which is basically “The Grass” from Ultima III. It follows the characters like Smeagol in Fellowship of the Rings or the spider that you let get away and is now lurking in your home somewhere, probably ready to ambush you in the shower or crawl in your mouth while you're sleeping.
Braven is a solid lead character. He is brave, as his name suggests, and doesn't insist on his own way. He is actually rather democratic in considering the opinions and needs of the other students. At the same time, he still commands confidence in others. Khara was definitely our favorite character, acting as the calming voice of reason who picks up many of the other characters when they're down and losing hope.
The book is a good length for the age group and doesn't overstay its welcome. It's actually shorter than you'd think with large line breaks and margins. This makes it a much easier read that flies by. It has its share of errors like the line “Someone will probably be here by in the morning,” however, this review probably has its share as well. You just expect a shorter work to be much tighter.
However, we can definitely recommend this book as a fun read full of adventure!
Check it out on Amazon!