Wed
Jun 21 2017 10:00am

Review: Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen

Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. ChenSet in the same world as Waypoint Kangaroo, Curtis C. Chen's Kangaroo Too is bursting with adrenaline and intrigue in this unique outer-space adventure.

Hurray! Finally, the sequel to Curtis C Chen’s hilarious and compelling sci-fi spy thriller Waypoint Kangaroo is out! The tie-in puzzle website (the first book had one too) doesn't seem to be ready yet, however, as I keep getting a “Wait for it…” notification as I tab back and forth between browser windows while I’m supposed to be writing this review. Or maybe I’m not as good at puzzle-solving as I think? Clearly, it must be the former.

Set in a future where mankind is busy colonizing the solar system, our narrator—codenamed Kangaroo—has a superpower and, so far as he and his bosses know, is the only person in the universe to have one. I’ll let him explain it in his own words, though:

I’m Kangaroo because I have a universe-sized secret pouch. I call it “the pocket” because I named it when I was ten years old. Science Division calls it a “hyperspace shunt” because they don’t know any better than I do how it works or why I have this ability. They’ve been testing me for more than a decade, and we’re still no closer to any real answers.

All we know is that I can open a portal into this empty, apparently infinite, parallel universe. I can’t go inside, but I can hide just about anything else in there—as long as the item can fit through the circular portal and survive being in deep space for as long as it takes me to travel to wherever the agency wants the item to end up.

Orphaned as a child, Kangaroo was taken in by the United States government when his powers manifested. Employed by an unnamed government agency to complete missions no one else can, Kangaroo is a trained and accomplished secret agent. However, his uniqueness means he’s generally not allowed into the field alone, as the agency tends to get a bit over-protective of their invaluable asset. Add to this his demeanor as a wisecracking old-movie nerd (okay, and his occasional moment of immature obstinacy, which he fully deserves to indulge himself in, in my opinion), and not a lot of people treat him like a grownup—such as here, where he’s trying to talk a scientist out of a desperate strategy:

“We’ve got all these spacemen here,” [she] says. “They can take back the building. Kill two birds with one stone.”

She clearly hasn’t ever tried to fight bad guys in confined spaces. I have, and it’s not pleasant or easy. Going into the hospital, even with a superior force, is asking for trouble.

“We don’t know anything about those robots,” I say. “We can’t attack without more information.”

“Maybe we should let the professionals make that decision.” [She] turns and walks back to where the spacemen are gathered.

I’m a professional,” I say, holding out my arms in a gesture of incredulity.

Here, in this latest installment of the Kangaroo series, a contact on the moon will deal only with the medical officer assigned to Kangaroo, Dr. Jessica Chu. Kangaroo is sent to accompany her because his power allows him to smuggle the gold bars that the contact demands as payment for the information they want.

Soon after they land on the moon, however, Jessica is arrested for murder. Then, a terrorist attack blows up critical lunar power plants, and it looks like the guy who aided the terrorists is none other than Jessica’s alleged victim. As Kangaroo struggles to clear her name and keep her out of jail, he also has to finalize the deal, foil the terrorists, oh, and uncover secrets from his own past. Nothing he can’t handle, despite what everyone around him may think.

Gosh, I enjoy this series so much! Kangaroo is such an enjoyable secret agent to spend time with, and the humor and liveliness of the series make for a real page-turner each time. I very much hope future sequels are in the works, as Kangaroo’s universe feels ripe for further exploration—especially since we still haven’t resolved all the plot threads from the first novel.

But for now, I’m off to stare at the website and wait, as instructed. For the record, I solved the puzzles in the first book’s website quite handily (though the hints did help when I was feeling lazy), uncovering a neat prequel story. Let me know in the comments section if you have any hints for what to do at kangaroo2.com!

Read an excerpt of Kangaroo Too!

 

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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

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