Jason Steed: Fledgling


Author: Mark A. Cooper

Publication: 2008, Sourcebooks

Pages: 209

Overall Rating:

Rating for Action:

Quantity of Action:

Age Category: 9-12

Brief Summary: Jason Steed is the only son of British Navy officer Ray Steed.  His mom died in childbirth, and he’s been raised in Hong Kong by a series of nannies while his dad serves long tours at sea.  But Jason is no ordinary boy.  From a young age he seems driven to succeed – to be faster, stronger, and better than anyone else.  He studies martial arts relentlessly, sneaks onto a Royal Marines base at night to run the obstacle course and play on the flight simulators, and gets into regular trouble by taking on bullies and muggers.  And all of that is just the opening act to what Jason faces when, as a young sea cadet, a training exercise goes terribly wrong, leaving the fate of the world in the hands of this extraordinary eleven year old boy.

Age of Main Character: 11

What I Liked the Most: This is a book you read for the action, not the character development.  And there’s plenty of action.  The fights are short but intense, and it definitely feels like Cooper knows what he’s talking about when he writes the scenes.

What I Liked the Least: My main problem with the book is that Jason is simply too damn young for what he does.  If Cooper had made him just three or four years older, the entire book would have been vastly more believable.  Even at six or seven, Jason is driven to get his black belt in record time – defying an instructor who thinks he’s too young to even start.  At eight he’s pushing himself to get black belts in two disciplines and sneaking onto the Royal Marine base, ultimately running the obstacle course as fast as a grown marine.  And on the romantic front he gets infatuated with a girl at eleven – dances with her, kisses her, and seems devastated when he can no longer see her.  The level of commitment and maturity here, that would have been reasonably believable from someone who was thirteen or fourteen, just didn’t feel like something I could buy coming from a ten year old.

Along the same lines, Jason has no real faults.  There’s nothing he’s bad at.  More to the point, he comes across as perfect at nearly everything he tries.  That leads to two problems.  First, I never felt very worried for Jason because no matter how desperate the situation he was just too damn good to lose.  Second, there wasn’t a lot of room for character growth.  He gets older, and he gets better at everything from martial arts to running the obstacle course, but he never really grows as a person.

How Good was the Action? Damn fine.  There are fights aplenty here, and once Jason gets into the actual adventure the whole story is building towards, Cooper throws everything but the kitchen sink at the kid.  It makes for some pretty intense scenes, from sneaking into enemy bases, to chases, firefights, and a death defying escape in a World War II bomber.

How Engaging was the Story?  Jason is an intriguing character, and I enjoyed the story.  Once he gets caught up in the action as a sea cadet the adventure part really clicked along.  But, like I said above, Jason was also too perfect at everything he tried and too young for most of it to be believable, which left me feeling a little cool to the whole story, a little too detached to ever be fully engaged.

Overall Assessment: This would be a fantastic choice for anyone who really just wants a good action read.  It’s loaded with martial arts, chases, firefights, and detailed information about the British Navy and Royal Marines.  There’s not a lot going on in terms of character development or emotional depth, but from a pure action standpoint it’s a blast.

Profanity: None.

Sex: A chaste kiss or two.

Violence: Plenty.  When Jason gets into a fight he doesn’t hold back.  There are broken bones aplenty, people get shot and people die.  It’s not swimming in gore by any means, but Cooper doesn’t hold back on the violence.

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