Author: H. J. Harper
Illustrator: Nahum Ziersch
Date released: September 1 2011
Genre: Science fiction / Fantasy
Target Audience: 7+
A Bug in a Book review by Scott Chambers.
In H.J. Harper’s Star League series, Ben Beaumont, a renowned film director, brings together a band of unlikely heroes: Jay (movie star), Connor (werewolf), Asuka (ninja), Roger (zombie), Leigh (animancer) and Sam (robot) to found GALACTIC (the General Anti-lawbreaker Association Committed to Immobilising Criminals). Under their “cover” of being movie stars for Ben’s productions, together the team strives to thwart the various evil plans of their archenemy Professor Pestilence.
With characters from werewolves to robots these fast-paced stories touch on many popular genres. Throw in a few dastardly villains, action packed fight scenes, and a few laughs and this series is ideal for hesitant readers, especially boys. Despite their special powers, each of the main characters (who are around 12 years old), have personal quirks and problems that they need to work through, making them easier for readers to relate to. Without preaching too loudly this collection of stories teach some good values and life lessons about friendship, cooperation, loyalty, respect, trust, responsibility and not taking everything at face value.
Star League #5: Monkey Business (ISBN: 9781864718706)
Narrated by animancer Leigh Faunus. Aunt Petunia, host of ultra-popular TV show Le-Nice Pets, is promoting a fashionable collar that “teaches” pets nice manners; and they are selling like hot cakes! The only problem being, they are actually mind control collars. So, hypothetically, all Aunt Petunia would have to do is get her hands on a Super Transmitter, then she would be able to control all the pets on the planet and force them to help her take over the world! When the Star League are called in to get to the bottom of some high-profile animal-nappings, Leigh is pretty sure that all the clues lead to Aunt Petunia – but her biggest problem is convincing everybody else. Meanwhile, a rather gifted iguana – of all things – succeeds in bringing Aunt Petunia the Super Transmitter she so desperately needs; which, as it turns out, is a rather long-winded way of spelling TROUBLE! Now the Star League is all that stands between the cranky flower-girl and world domination. When Leigh’s best friend Chu is also brainwashed, all seems lost. Will the loyalty and trust that Leigh and Chu have shared in the past be enough to overcome Aunt Petunia’s mind control? And what IS it with Aunt Petunia’s weird gorilla sidekick, Sweetpea? To find out, you’ll just have to read H.J. Harper’s Monkey Business.
Star League #6: Robot Reboot
Narrated by S.A.M. The Star League respond to a reported robbery at the Happy Android Robotics factory where another robot, iRis, gains SAM’s trust by helping him rescue the rest of the Star League when they fall into what appears to be a trap. The robbers, who failed to find the Megadroids they were searching for, next plan to target Falcon Laboratories. Meanwhile, iRis strengthens her friendship with SAM by empathising with his logic-driven inability to handle emotions, and offering him what appears to be the ideal solution: the Emotochip. However, once SAM gains access to the highly secure Falcon Laboratories, and the Megadroids, he smells a rat (or rather, a sneaky and deceptive robot); but all too late! Inexperienced as SAM is at controlling his newfound feelings, iRis is able to manipulate SAM into helping her steal the Megadroids by clouding his once-logical thoughts with powerful emotions. She even convinces him to turn on the rest of the Star League – who appear to be no match for these massive machines of destruction. Can SAM learn to control his emotions before he grinds his own friends to a pulp?
Star League #7: Box Office Smash
At the premiere of Star League’s latest film “Secret Agent Showdown”, SAM overhears a plot to sabotage the screening and capture the Star League. When the villains have almost been dealt with a portal opens to an unknown dimension and out step The Shadow Six – agents of Professor Pestilence with special powers of their own. In their quest to locate the missing shard of a mysterious dark crystal, the Shadow Six kidnap Ben Beaumont. The Star League are then whisked away to GALACTIC headquarters, but while planning their next move the Shadow Six return to kidnap the head of GLALACTIC. After foiling the abduction attempt, the Star League unknowingly hitch a ride with the Shadow Six through their portal back to the remote mountainous hideout of non-other than Professor Pestilence himself! With much cooperation, resourcefulness, and no small amount of luck, the Star League finally gain access to the heavily guarded castle, which is round about when things start to go pear-shaped; which involves, in no particular order, finding Ben, being found by the Shadow Six, Ben being turned to stone, Jay discovering that he is actually holding the seventh shard of “The Shadow Stone” in a keepsake of his parents, meeting the real Professor Pestilence, and discovering that there is basically no way for them to escape. Um … gulp! Oh, and did I mention that if, by chance, Professor Pestilence manages to get that last shard from Jay then there is basically nothing to stop him from RULING THE WORLD?!? If it weren’t for the fact they were actually trapped in a tower it would make a great cliff-hanger ending!
Star League #8: The Final Cut
The Final Cut begins with a slight hitch; in that Jay drops his shard of the Shadow Stone, which Professor Pestilence then uses to steal all of the Star League’s special powers, and banish everyone but Jay to some deep, dark, monster infested caves from which there is no way out. Oops. While the others are doing their best to stay alive, with only their wits and teamwork at their disposal, Jay and the Professor get to spend some quality time together, but they don’t chat about the weather. All that’s left for Jay to do then is work out how to save his friends from certain death, and to retrieve the Shadow Stone from Professor Pestilence before he fulfils his dream of World domination! Well, almost all …