Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway: Jabin and the Space Pirates

Published: June 1st, 2012

Publisher: Taylor Street

Pages: 294

Rating: 3/5

In the space colony of New Wales, the pirate attacks are both relentless and merciless.

Having lost both his parents, Jabin has been adopted by his austere and spiteful uncle and aunt who live in the space colony of New Wales which is riven with religious and political rivalry, and prey to the vicious marauding of pirates whose cruelty and greed are beyond all imagination.

When Jabin volunteers to surrender himself to a pirate raiding party to save a friend, he does so believing that nothing can be worse than his current suffering.

However, he is soon to discover that things can always get worse when the stakes are high, the rewards are vast and slave labor is there for the taking.

When the King of New Wales is assassinated, the colony threatens to collapse into total anarchy, leaving the pirates free reign to mutilate, kill and profit as they will, but the forces of law and order sent out from Earth are getting ready to fight back, and Jabin could have a vital part to play in the ensuing war if he can only stay alive. [Desciption from Goodreads]


This was one of those books that I read, finished, then sat back and tried to decipher how I felt about it. I’m still not quite sure. This was the first YA sci-fi novel that I’ve read… ever (yeah, I know, I need to widen my horizons a bit), so this genre is new to me. I’m not quite sure what to think of this book, but I’ll do my best to get my thoughts out.

Jabin and the Space Pirates is a futuristic sci-fi, and to be honest, it reminded me a lot of Star Wars in that there is life off-planet as well as on, and there is a lot of military content. There’s a fight for power between government and pirates. Something that was unique, though, was the slave trade aspect. I didn’t especially like this aspect, mainly because of the disturbing content (raping, beating, etc) but on the bright side, this aspect revealed how truly nasty the villain was.

The book starts out with Jabin living in a pious community with his cold aunt and uncle. We’re told that Jabin has been passed from relative to relative ever since his mother disappeared. He’s been unhappy in each place, and especially here with his strict aunt and uncle. One mistake for him results in missed meals, and the extreme (and sometimes superficial) spirituality of the community and the church annoy and confuse Jabin. When a ruthless pirate overtakes the community and swipes several young people (including Jabin) for slavery, Jabin is both anxious and relieved. His belief is that his situation can’t get any worse, and neither will it get better. But his cruel pirate master is nothing but mild with his slaves. Jabin, as well as many others, are beaten into complete submission. Girls are raped by several men and traded off when they become boring.

I won’t lie; the content really disturbed me. I was surprised this book was listed as young adult with all the troubling content that it contains. I even considered stopping, but I felt I couldn’t review it with the amount that I had read so far. So I finished it. I can’t say I truly enjoyed it- it was interesting at some parts, but other parts were confusing (the author didn’t explain certain aspects of her story; weapons and other things were mentioned and no explanation was given as to what she was talking about). All the military ranks and content got a little muddled, but that was just me. It cleared up once I got all the characters’ names and ranks straight. There were some slight grammatical errors, but that’s understandable as this is a debut novel.

All in all, I felt that this book had its high moments, but then it would get a bit tiresome and dull again. Jabin eventually helps out the government in the war, but what he did didn’t feel like a big accomplishment. He comforted the young king when they were locked in a closet. Not that big of a deal. I felt that it lacked a climax, and when I finished, I was confused as to what meaning the whole book had. It’s obvious the author tried to dive into her characters and let us get to know them, but I felt it only scratched the surface. It failed to entertain me and keep me interested, and the disturbing content proved to repulse me enough to want to stop reading. It just wasn’t for me. I feel like this novel was a good first try, but not good enough.

Quick Content Review: *may contain spoilers*

Language: Moderate- Heavy (Characters curse throughout, using a variety of words)

Violence: Moderate- Heavy (Mention of a man’s head being shot. Other instances of shooting. Slaves are beaten. Jabin has a gold disk put in his ear to “mark” him as a slave.)

Sexual: Moderate (Slave girls are raped- no description.)

Interview with the author, Bev Allen

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m married and I have two grown up children. I live in a small market town deep in the English shires, and when I’m not writing, I’m either quilting or working as an administrator for a small charity involved in military history research.

Awesome! Sounds like you have a very cozy home. I’d give anything to live in the English countryside. When did you start writing? What/who was your influence for writing Jabin and the Space Pirates?

I think I may have been about five when I first committed thoughts to paper; fortunately this epic has not survived.

I’ve never been a huge fan of what people call “chick lit” (btw, I hate that expression), even as a little girl I preferred what was then called “boy’s stories” as opposed to those written with girls in mind.

“Jabin” came from a number of sources, the sci-fi pulp adventure stories I have always loved and the military history which has been a big part of my life.

I wanted to write the sort of story I would have loved as a teenager, and if I’m honest, still love, but I wanted a hero who could reflect some of the problems many teenagers face in today’s society.

I think all stories come from things the authors love or something they’ve learned from. It’s what makes the stories theirs. Mentioning your hero, how would you describe your main character, Jabin?

Courageous and self-loathing. Courageous, because he may be frightened and unhappy, but he never entirely gives up, he always reaches deep down inside himself to find a tiny nugget of valor.

Self-loathing, because he has had any self-worth knocked out of him, he thinks all the bad things which happen to him are his fault and he must therefore be a bad person. He’s wrong of course, but I think it’s a feeling many have experienced.

I agree, I see those two qualities in him clearly. It was fascinating seeing Jabin grow and work through his problems as the story progressed. What was most difficult about writing a futuristic sci-fi novel?

The laws of physics. Life would be so much easier if it wasn’t for the fixed speed of light. I am afraid I overcome this by simply ignoring it as do most pulp sci fic writers. We happily throw in words like “ion drive” in the hope you won’t notice we have no idea how anyone could get to another star system in the space of a couple of weeks.

Haha! I can’t imagine writing in that genre. It would be so difficult. What message do you want readers to take from your book?

This may sound trite, but I mean it- never give up on love. Both receiving it and giving it. “And now these three remain, faith hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

That’s a great theme, especially for young adult books. Can you tell us about any future projects you’re doing? Any new books? Maybe a sequel?

I’ve just finished another sci-fi adventure, this time set on a forest world. There’s a strong environmental theme running through, but there are also tattooed tribesmen, kidnapped brides, corrupt officials and a young hero as unlike Jabin as he can possibly be. Action/adventure all the way.

I’ve also started a fantasy all about mercenaries, flintlock muskets and a rebellious young prince (back to my beloved military). It is fantasy because the late medieval world I have set it on exists only in my head, but the laws of physics will this time be respected, so no magic, just plenty of action.

Sounds awesome! I can’t wait to hear more about it. And just for fun, where’s your favorite place to write? Do you have a favorite book? I hear that you love anything that has to do with history and military- what’s your favorite time period in history?

I LOVE my computer. It lives in our back room and I am happy to sit and write there all day long.

As for a favorite book, that one is really, really hard, because I don’t think I can pick one from the herd. But I do have favorite authors, Georgette Heyer, Patrick O’Brian, George MacDonald Fraser, Robert Heinlein, S M Stirling and my latest find, Ben Aaronovitch. I love books by dozens of other people as well, but we could be here all day if I get started.

I do enjoy military history very much and especially anything to do with the British Army and the Indian Army. I guess the Victorian era would be top of my list there, but I’ll go back to earlier as well.

And it’s not just military history; I am fascinated by paleoanthropology (a branch of anthropology that has to do with fossils of human beings) and European social history from about 700 to 1500.

It was fantastic getting to chat with you, Bev! Can’t wait to see what books you have for us next!


Want to read Jabin and the Space Pirates? Well, my readers, it’s your lucky day! Enter below for a chance to win a copy of Bev Allen’s YA sci-fi novel.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Some rules:

1) US residents only.

2) Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is picked.

3) No cheating- I check!

Find Jabin and the Space Pirate in both paperback and Kindle format on Amazon here.


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