Matthew Reilly-hovercar Racer Book Review
A book review.
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Matthew Reilly’s ‘Hover Car Racer’ is set in the future and tells the story of Jason Chaser’s road from being a poor, small-time hover car racer in his backyard; the Australian outback, to being the biggest thing on the hover racing scene. Hover car racing is the hottest sport in the future, with cars harnessing the power of the earth’s electro-magnetic field to propel themselves at super-fast speeds. The novel is primarily set in Tasmania, but progresses to locations around the world such as New York, Venice and Niagara Falls.
In ‘Hover Car Racer’, young Jason and his little brother The Bug are inducted into the International Race School that operates to house the best young racers in the world. Jason is the youngest racer there, and on arrival is automatically an outcast. He comes from a poor family and his car, ‘The Argonaut’, is quite old yet trustworthy. At race school, Jason learns that in this line of work, winning is everything, not everybody fights fair, and when you step out onto the track, everyone is your enemy.
On at arriving at race school, Jason befriends the only girl at the school; Ariel Piper. The two are in the same boat as being the only girl in a sport where girl’s aren’t fully accepted yet, she is immediately an outcast as well. At the race school, races are completed each week and for each race, depending on where the racer finishes, they get a score. Throughout the year, the scores combine from the 50 races during the year, and at the conclusion of the race season, the top 4 out of the 27 other racers go to America to fight it out in the ‘New York Challenger Series’. It is a series against the best racers from other race schools around the world. Jason faces setbacks such as having a bomb planted on his tail fin which, when detonated, causes his car to nosedive and he almost drowns whilst heroically saving The Bug. His pit stops are sabotaged by various opponents throughout the race season, including by his arch-nemesis: Xavier Xenora. He also receives several threats from bookmakers and other students, but he perseveres. The hover car racing world requires Jason to be a man if he wishes to live.
Jason makes it through to the New York Challenger along with 23 other young racers from other race school’s around the world (including Aerial and Xavier), and continuing on with his “Never say die” attitude, win’s the whole race which gains him entry into a pro racing team for the New York Masters series; Four races ran over a week in which there are initially 16 racers, and only 4 left by the final race to fight it out for the championship.
The saying “part fighter pilot, part race car driver, all superstar” is undoubtedly true for Jason, as he signs to pro team, Lombardi Racing. Jason, the underdog, then goes on to win the whole New York Challenger series through perseverance and never giving up. His mentor Scott Syracuse from the race school guides him through the whole tournament to help him achieve victory.
Jason makes a lot of enemies along the way, including two Frenchmen, Fabian and Troveau, not to mention Xavier Xenora and Barnaby Becker from race school. It is Jasons determination that allows him to overcome these hurdles and be successful. Yet he and his parents remain extremely humble throughout the novel, making Jason a hero and a good role model.
The fact that Jason comes out on top against all the odds is what makes ‘Hover Car Racer’ such a thrilling read. Jason captures reader’s hearts as he defies older, fully grown men out on the race track, while often risking his life. The way in which he protects Ariel from the sexist nature of the sport, and also the way in which he protects The Bug from everything, from bullies to drowning, is inspiring. Jason is noble and courageous and we respect these traits.