Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Hal Junior: The Gyris Mission by Simon Haynes

Hal Junior: The Gyris Mission by Simon Haynes is the third book about Hal Junior, although it stands alone and the series doesn't have to be read in order. It is aimed at younger readers. I have previously reviewed the second book, Hal Junior: The Missing Case, and two Hal Spacejock books for adult readers, set in the same universe: Hal Spacejock: Baker's Dough and Hal Spacejock: Safe Art.
Hal Junior and Stephen 'Stinky' Binn live aboard a high-tech space station, far from the nearest planet. The rules are strict, and their lives are carefully regulated.
That's why they're so excited about the camping trip to Planet Gyris ... imagine a whole week of fishing, swimming, sleeping in tents and running wild!
Unfortunately, the boys crash land in the middle of a forest, and there's little chance of rescue. Is this the end of the camping trip ... or the start of a thrilling new adventure?
First I want to emphasise that this book absolutely stands alone in terms of the other Hal Junior books and the Hal Spacejock books. You do not have to have read any of them to enjoy The Gyris Mission. However, if you have read them, as I have, you may find yourself, like I am, desperate to know exactly how the Hal Junior books fit into the larger Hal Spacejock universe. Is Hal Junior Spacejock's son? If he is, how did Spacejock meet his mother? If not, why is he called Hal Junior and why does he idolise "Captain Spacejock"? Or is Hal Junior about Hal Spacejock's childhood? I was already curious before I read The Gyris Mission, and then Spacejock characters showed up AND NOW I MUST KNOW.

Ahem. As for the actual story. The Gyris Mission is a funny and exciting comedy of errors. Hal Junior does a lot of silly things, Stinky is forever reminding him of things they learnt in class and adult characters are absent at opportune moments. I've mentioned in my other reviews of Haynes' books that despite the honour and light-heartedness with which his books are written, he goes out of his way to include accurate physics. The Gyris Mission is no different. Stinky's reminders to Hal of relevant information they'd learnt in class felt natural and I think was a gentle way of educating the younger audience without preaching or talking down to the reader. It's certainly a book (/series) I'd encourage my kids to read. Y'know, if I had any. Haynes also does a particularly good job of describing space station life by portraying Hal and Stinky as being surprised by various aspects of being on a planet.

The Gyris Mission is a fairly short read (about par for the age group, I think) and full of action and laughs. I recommend it to younger readers with any passing interesting in science fiction or adventure stories. Or to adults who want a light read and/or are fans of Haynes' books.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2012, Bowman Press
Series: Hal Junior, book 3 of ? Standalone series
Format read: ePub on iPhone
Source: Purchased from SmashWords
Challenges: Australian Science Fiction Reading Challenge

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