|The Two Lost Mountains
Jack West Jr (#6)
|25 March 2021
29 March 2021
The Two Lost Mountains is blisteringly fast, full of endless action and the second last Jack West Jr book. Perhaps that’s a good thing.
The Two Lost Mountains continues the Jack West Jr series with the tyrannical Sphinx furthering his plans for world domination and the cull of the human population. Outmatched, out-gunned and out-prepared at all times, the deck has never been stacked more against Jack West Jr. Throw in a sect of fanatical misogynistic monks, a new villain feared by all leaders of the four kingdoms and The Two Lost Mountains is a powder keg primed to blow.
Continually two steps behind with a fragmented team, West must claw his way back to stop the array of forces beset against him and the good of the world. Like the previous books in the Jack West Jr series the key themes continue to be the value of family and loyalty, valuing individuals based on their character rather than appearance and the importance of doing what is right, regardless of the difficulty.
I was introduced to Matthew Reilly in early high school and it was love at first sight for my 13 year old brain. Reilly’s writing style of blistering pace and always increasing tension was a stark contrast to the traditional fantasy style I was used to. I loved it. I read every single book he’d published by then, a total of ten novels.
I’ve diligently followed the Jack West Jr series over the past 12 years. But, the enamour of the series has begun to fade as I’ve got older. Perhaps it’s because the books are for a young adult audience, perhaps it’s because I no longer find Reilly’s writing style as enticing or perhaps I’m ready to put the series to bed.
Some trepidation warred with my loyalty and desire to read The Two Lost Mountains. I hadn’t loved the previous book in the series, what if the shine was beginning to wear? A faint fear that my fond memory of this series would lessen.
And, unfortunately, my doubts weren’t unfounded. I struggled to get through this book. I struggled with Reilly’s tendency to use cliffhangers across chapters. But most importantly, I struggled to connect with Jack’s character. He’s put through the meat grinder again and again, it’s become normality. But, if you’re someone who currently reads and enjoys Matthew Reilly, then The Two Lost Mountains will be another satisfying read.
I’m always impressed by Matthew Reilly’s ability to integrate real world places, events and technologies into his novels. The Two Lost Mountains is no different, with Google at my fingertips it was a rich reading experience. I gained further knowledge beyond the story itself, discovering Moscow’s Red Square, Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign and V-22 Ospreys. The fact that The Two Lost Mountains is both an entertaining high stake, non-stop action novel while being educational is damned impressive.
In a similar vein, I love that Reilly consistently includes sketches and diagrams throughout his novels. Before Jack undertakes a fiendishly bold plan we visually see it, like watching a sports coach draw the play on a whiteboard. And, it’s an elegant way to break the fourth wall, momentarily including us within Jack’s team as he breaks down the game plan for the chaotic situations they are thrust into.
One of my gripes with The Two Lost Mountains is that by this stage, Jack’s character feels relatively immutable. This is book six, we’ve seen Jack go through momentous, soul crushing character developments. Beware spoilers if you haven’t read the previous books; Jack’s mentor was fatally shot by his abusive father. Jack had to kill his hate-filled half-brother in a fight to the death. Then do the same against his father. These events pushed Jack to his breaking point and defined his character. Bar a Red Wedding, I really doubt that Jack’s spirit will be broken.
Unfortunately this meant I was less invested in The Two Lost Mountains. The stakes for me potentially losing a favourite character just weren’t there. In this regard, I’m glad we’ve reached the twilight of the Jack West Jr series and I look forward to closing the story of our hero, Jack West Jr.
Was The Two Lost Mountains as satisfying to read as the previous installments when I was a teenager? No. And I think now I would really struggle to re-read the series from scratch. I’ve been reading the Jack West Jr series for 12 years now. I’m an entrenched fan and I’ll finish the series. Unfortunately it’s increasingly out of loyalty rather than desire. While older readers may no longer be Reilly’s most vocal, die hard fans, I’m hopeful younger readers will still find magic in his work.