Book Review: Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation

Now, here’s my story of how I found Jack Blank. My 10 year old son and I had just finished reading aloud a book and we panic (not really) when there is nothing in our Queue. (not really true … we have stacks of books but still …. ) Luckily, we have a public library (cheering now) and so, we ventured there on Saturday morning, and as he sat on the ground with a pile of graphic novels and comics, I perused the shelves.

I had no plan for choosing our next read aloud. You ever go into a library with no plan? Just let your eyes wander and see what they will see? Pull books out. Look them over. Put them back. Move a few feet. Pull. Back. Look. Move. I do it all the time, and I have come to mostly trust my instincts, even though I realize that cover design and titles of books play an important role in getting my attention in the stacks. So be it. I am sure there are folks in publishing companies whose entire jobs is to make sure their book hooks my attention. I am a happy fish most of the time.

That’s how I came to find Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation. (And later realized, with some confusion, that an earlier version was called The Accidental Hero.) Anyway, the title was intriguing. The cover was pretty cool looking, sort of echoes of Percy Jackson. We took the thick book home, dove in and got hooked pretty quickly. While my son is often the first to notice how writers steal (*cough* borrow) from each other, and while he has made many observations about writer Mike Myklusch’s tale of Jack Blank having similar characteristics to other stories we and he have read, that has not stopped either of us from devouring this story on a daily basis, and now we are on to the next book in the trilogy (The Secret War).

Maybe it has to with the superhero theme or how comic books inform the first part of the story. Whatever. We are locked in tight with 12 year old Jack Blank, whose past is sort of a mystery, and whose powers over machines and technology become a centerpiece in the fight against an alien invasion that uses viruses (human and cyber) in an attempt to destroy the Imagine Nation (where superheroes and others who believe in the unbelievable) and the Real World (where we all live .. most of us, anyway).

Myklusch is spinning a interesting story, full of action and the unknown, and I am surprised this one was never on our radar screen before. I had never heard of it. You want to hook adolescent boys into reading? Put Jack Blank in their heads and watch out. They will devour this book, and the second book is just as good (if not more layered than the first).

We’re in it until the end …

Peace (not blank),

PS — Since I wrote this, and kept it in my draft folder, we finished The Secret War (thumbs up) and are now on the last book in the trilogy, The End of Infinity.

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