My rating: 3 of 5 stars
For me, the best Halo stories are the ones that dive headfirst into the Halo universe’s deep well of lore. Most of the games barely scratch at the surface of this universe, only lightly touching or referencing the deep mythology. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the action of the games themselves is so deeply satisfying.
“Helljumper” has the problem of trying to be more like the games than other stories. It’s very light on the story, focusing on the bond-of-brother-soldiers thing between Romeo and Dutch, two of the characters from Halo: ODST. Romeo was always my least favorite of the ODST cast, although to my surprise, he reads very differently than his game counterpart. Regardless, the focus of the book is largely on ODST action, kicking butt and killing aliens. Which is . . . okay, but the games handle this action-first focus far better.
Things like “the Knowing” which could be deeply interesting questions to ponder and investigate are instead reduced to a McGuffin that needs to be kept out of enemy hands or humanity is doomed, though we’re never told how exactly, as the McGuffin is blown up about four pages after it’s revealed.
Helljumper doesn’t really do anything wrong, but it doesn’t play to the strengths of its medium. Dutch and Romeo are likable and their bond is a good one, and I did like how the story ended on the question of whether they will transfer out or not. So while Helljumper doesn’t make any mistakes, it plays things too safe.