A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy by David Solomons
|A Beginner's Guide to Ruling the Galaxy by David Solomons|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: A romp of a sci-fi story, full of silliness galore!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: July 2022|
|Publisher: Nosy Crow Ltd|
|External links: Author's website|
Gavin is being followed, seemingly constantly, by the new (very annoying) girl at school. Only this is not your typical boy meets girl story. Because in this instance, the girl in question is Niki, and she is a galactic princess (no, really, she is!) So what will Gavin do when he becomes embroiled in a situation where, potentially, Earth and everyone on it will be blown to smithereens, all because of Niki?
This is a romp of a story, with a lot to like. It’s funny, and fast, and has a real wide-ranging cast of characters. I was never quite sure where the plot was going to go next, and so I enjoyed just going along for the ride. There’s definitely a ‘’lot’’ of silliness involved. One of my favourite parts is when the spaceships AI system transfers itself out of the ship and ends up inside a stuffed unicorn toy who wanders around suffering trauma over what might happen to them if they venture back out into space having watched lots of our films and TV series about aliens whilst being in hiding on earth!
Niki is also a really good character, as to begin with she is immensely unlikeable! I felt like the development of the story around her was well done, and I found I was invested in what happened to both her and Gavin at the end. The other alien characters are interesting too, including one who resembles a cat but is actually a bounty hunter! There’s a lot of humour that revolves around their understanding (or not) of how things work on earth. It did seem a little odd that nobody else in Gavin’s school picked up on the fairly obvious fact that Niki was not from earth, but I soon stopped pondering that as the story ramped up.
I also really liked that Gavin is a foster child, and the way this was handled in the book. Even though this is a humorous book, it does raise some interesting thoughts about family and belonging, both from Gavin’s point of view, and also from Niki’s. There were some very moving moments towards the end of the story, and for anyone of a particularly sensitive nature, it’s okay, there’s a happy ending!
Towards the end of the story (without giving away any spoilers) we get to meet more of Niki’s family, and I especially enjoyed these parts, and I found the humour around these two new aliens settling in on earth to be very funny. There’s plenty of action and adventure, thrills and spills throughout, and at times it reminded me of a childlike version of the sort of silliness you get in Douglas Adams’ books. The book is very easy to read, in that the tone feels very friendly and accessible, but there’s plenty of challenging vocabulary, and complicated plotlines, so that it never feels simplistic or boring.
I personally felt like the book ran perhaps a little bit too long. But the chapters are fairly short, and I’m sure that kids around that nine to twelve years age group who are confident readers would race through it with no problem!
You might also enjoy another story by this author My Gym Teacher is An Alien Overlord (My Brother is a Superhero) by David Solomons, or why not try Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford.
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