The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones

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The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones

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Buy The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: A fast, funny and nail-biting tale of an ordinary, everyday lad who suddenly becomes the target of the murderous rage of a whole crowd of alien species.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747599814

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Thirteen-year-old Stanley Bound is an ordinary boy from south London who lives above a pub with his bad-tempered half-brother Doug. He is bullied at school, and the situation only gets worse when he discovers that the popular new boy Lance has been both lying and stealing. Lance gets his revenge by framing Stanley, and now no one trusts him, even his grumpy brother. Little wonder, then, that our sad and lonely hero dreams of travelling to distant places to escape his miserable life. But as we all know, that is a dangerous desire: Stanley should have remembered that people who get what they wish for often regret it. By the end of the book he has travelled the universe, been accused of murder, and met more bizarre characters than even his wildest dreams could have created.

The first hint for Stanley that something is wrong is when two strange men come looking for him. Not long after that he finds he is being chased by an odd little man called Eddie who wears his beard on his head and his hat on his chin, and the increasingly zany tone of the book is set. Eddie is an intergalactic lawyer, offering his services because he says Stanley is about to be arrested. And indeed that is what happens: Stanley is picked up by a seriously hairy policeman and taken through a circle of darkness to another world, where he is famous as the boy who shot and killed President Vorlugenar, the most important man in the universe. A murder which was caught on camera.

The rest of the book relates Stanley's escape from custody and his adventures as he is chased and captured by various alien species who all want to profit by his alleged crime. He meets an eccentric professor, he is captured by terrifying bird-headed pirates named the Marauding Picaroons, and he makes friends with a delightful talking mushroom he calls Spore. He learns that the Armorians have the Planner, a super-computer which speeds up evolution by scanning your mind, determining what you are good at and enhancing your natural abilities. Singers are enabled to sing harmonies on their own, clever people's brains are enlarged, and teachers are given eyes in the back of their heads.

Gareth P Jones' book is a joyful medley of fantastic creatures and crazy situations. Coincidence is occasionally stretched so far it's definitely going to need new elastic, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, if you accept the main premise (ordinary boy is target of several alien species, and even he can see why they might suspect him of murder) why worry? We are reassured right from the start that Stanley will escape danger eventually, because dotted throughout the book are scenes set in an Earth police station where detectives and a psychologist are questioning Stanley about where he has been and what happened to him. But the message of the book is that you cannot believe appearances, and Stanley's adventures are not over when he returns to his home. A couple of characters feature early in the book and then fade out, which is a shame, but apart from that this is a thoroughly good read with an interesting slant on such topics as genetic modification and power.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Young readers who want to see their hero narrowly miss certain death in a variety of exciting ways will also enjoy The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck by Jamie Rix.

Buy The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Space Crime Conspiracy by Gareth P Jones at Amazon.com.

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