Tell me, how long you gonna stay here Joe?


I really enjoy the song title puns Morin uses for this book titles in the Black Ocean series - and like the challenge of coming up with an appropriate title of my own to match it for the review.  Looking at the lyrics to Ventura Highway, it was just a little too easy, because it actually summed up my feelings toward the current mission pack pretty well.

Once again we find the young Brad Ramsey travelling with his father, Chuck, and their friend Mort, the wizard.  Once again they are stopping at a new location because they are low on funds.  Once again they are all looking to either find a way to secure some cash without actually working for it, or maybe just to eat away at the time until the next stop.  Once again this book feels like something I have read several times before.

It doesn't feel to me like the characters are growing at all in this pack (yes, I think of these more in the collected sets than individual books).  As such, it seems like it is more of a YA novel than what I'm looking for in a Black Ocean story.   The writing is, as always, very cinematic and top notch, but I guess I want more from just some random stories about a hero as a teenager.

Of course, they have the opportunity to make the score of a lifetime, but since this a prequel we know that no matter how successful they may end up in their heist, in the end they will be pretty much back where they started.  Like a sitcom, nothing in the book seems to matter or affect anything later.  The adults are already pretty set as we know them in the future, and the young Brad, while he may have some very exciting adventures ahead of him once he joins up and becomes a true pilot, making the life long friends (and finding his wife) that we know from future stories.  However this is not that, it is another teen age story that doesn't go anywhere.

I did actually enjoy the ending - the "howdunit" (as opposed the mystery "whodunit") of what happened, or what might have happened, or what could have happened, or finally what really happened.  But then I like enjoy that kind of heist caper, even if it is an old trope.

My concern is that there are going to be another two of these episodic books before we have a chance to start seeing what could be the more interesting parts of who Brad Ramsey was before he became the captain of the Mobius, and won't get to see any of the other characters that have made the other books so interesting.  (Yes, I know it will be a LONG time (and probably never :-( ) until we see Kubu again.

So until next time, when we will find our heroes AGAIN having an adventure that doesn't matter.  Or until we start to see some of the more interesting parts of the backstory.

You can pick up Ventura Starway on Amazon.

Because it is all fun and games . . .