Monday, 7 March 2022

 

Return to the Justice Academy, the galaxy’s premier college for superheroes!

Back for his second year, Grey wants nothing more than to spend time with his friends and maybe take a class or two. A normal student life. Instead, Grey’s friends are all distracted by their own problems and somebody is trying to break his nemesis out of jail.

When tragedy strikes the Academy, Grey finds himself stuck between the roles of investigator and prime suspect. Chased across the galaxy and back, Grey must face a dark secret from the Academy’s past. Grey cannot hope to defeat it alone, but cut off from his friends, can he trust an unexpected crossover?

That paradox alone could kill him

 


WITH THE CROSSOVER PARADOX by Rob Edwards, we return to the Justice Academy for his fun and energetic tale of Grey and the gang.

However, things are not exactly fun and frolics as Grey enters his second year at the Academy. One of the things that has altered quite drastically is that the gang has kind of gone their own separate ways. Sevenfourthirty is shacked up with some new Brontom students, Pivli is finding her own path after being imbibed with powers, Dex is off doing her own thing and Grey's possible love interest returns with a new boyfriend in tow.

Not a good start, but as the way of all stories, things become far more complicated from there when a beloved member of the teaching team is murdered and Grey is seen as the main suspect for her death. Not only that, the murdered teacher is related to a member of the gang, and this has a massive impact on the dynamics of the gang. 

As we are more established in this second outing, it is nice to return to this world of educational cosiness and satisfying to return to the characters that Rob Edwards introduced us to in the first book The Ascension Machine (I mean, it's only been a week, but I did miss them!)

There are new trials and tribulations for the gang, in particular Grey who, as the rest of the group have gone their own ways, feels more and more isolated as he enters the second year, and subsequently experiences a growing feeling of disconnect from the Academy and his friends. On top of that, his current predicament compounds his isolation as he comes under suspicion.

The book feels a little more insular than The Ascension Machine, and instead of zipping about the galaxy most of the action takes place in the Justice Academy, and the setting works well to highlight how cut off Grey feels. 

At times, especially with the murder and investigation, it feels more like a cosy mystery as Grey and his companions look for clues and information. However, it swiftly changes direction when secrets from the past are discovered. and puts the whole of the academy in danger.

The Crossover Paradox builds on the story of Grey in this second outing for the unknown boy. He is still as clever as ever and is also his usual charming self throughout the book.There is some character growth in the story, even if at times he does return to type and runs away from his problems. In addition we get the introduction of new characters, which all add to the story and move it along. Not only are there new heroes (mainly in the form of Apogee), but there is the introduction of new villains to add to the mix.

In addition to this, there are the clever nods to the superhero mythos mixed with excellent characterisation and fast paced writing that bounces along keeping the reader turning the pages. 

With The Crossover Paradox, Rob Edwards has expanded the universe really well. It's an excellent story that is accessible to both younger readers and older readers like me.


Right, now that the review bit is done, I am going to do a bit of an after credits scene (see what I did there? I am going all Marvely and putting in some extra scenes!). Now, as an older reader digesting a book that is aimed at younger readers, it is sometimes difficult to predict how books will be taken up by younger readers. I mean I am at a slight disadvantage here as I passed the 'younger adult' thing decades ago and my memories of being a younger reader are pretty distant. However, what I firmly believe when reading a book that is for a younger generation is that good stories appeal to all ages and that not only the 'intended' target audience enjoy the book, but that the enjoyment is universal, and I have to say that Rob Edwards does this very well in both his books, The Ascension Machine and The Crossover Paradox. I have found that I have loved the stories of each of these books. I can't say that I prefer one over the other as they both have different aspects that I enjoyed. The Ascension Machine is a bit more galaxy hopping and expansive, whilst The Crossover Paradox is a little more contained within the aspects of the academy, and both work extremely well.

One of the things that I have enjoyed particularly is Grey's character. The fact that we never get to see the 'real' Grey is something that has kept me hooked. There are times in both books where he sheds his 'Grey' persona and goes to his secret identity as 'nobody' and wearing different mantles and disguises and then shedding them. There remains an air of mystery about him that makes me want to dig more, and keep with the series. For me, this is one of the clever things that Rob Edwards has done, to purposefully keep him as a bit of a mystery.

If you are a parent and you want to look for a series that you could read with your child, or that you would point your child in the direction of , then I couldn't recommend these books enough. Yes, there is some death in there, but it is not gratuitous, and again this one of the strengths of the book, in that it doesn't condescend younger readers. 




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