Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
|Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: This sci-fi comedy for the young lulled me into a false sense of boredom at the beginning, but certainly awoke me from it with gags and action aplenty.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: September 2014|
|Publisher: OUP Oxford|
Meet Astra. She's a young girl who doesn't like the idea of being 209 years old. Well, who would? Technically she will be ageing, but not in reality, for she is to spend two whole centuries asleep on a spaceship as her family travel the massive distance to Nova Mundi. Given the chance to explore the ship a little before everyone is shut down for the journey she finds a food replicator in the dining hall, and helps herself to a sneaky chocolate biscuit supper. She then realises the machine could make her the ultimate cake, but is unsuccessful when the small food factory seems to break down, and she is forced to be frozen in her pod. Unfortunately, the machine itself is far from frozen…
I have to admit I didn't take to this book at first. It read like any bland and mediocre sci-fi book written over the past fifty years, for any age group you care to mention. People have to be frozen in a cryopod before they can travel anywhere, food comes out of machines making it all to order, robots do everything, and zero gravity is like any sci-fi film you care to name. The only differences I could see this time round were that a majority of people and things were female, and that Astra's mother, in Sarah McIntyre's cartoonish illustrations, is a person of colour.
But then… everything is turned on its head. I came to this book blind, and so should you, so I won't go anywhere towards defining the full extent of the plot. It is suitably wacky, to say the least. There is a line later on that bizarrely reminded me of the film Snakes on a Plane and the audacity that that had to present a comedy drama out of something very unlikely being in a very unlikely place. This book has that, and a whole lot more.
There's droll humour from a couple of more cutting lines of dialogue, there is some kind of Douglas Adams level of comedy I can't begin to reveal, and there is some small level of invention – certainly by the end a lot more than the opening chapters. It's lucky the whole thing moves at such a pace that any problems it has are forgiven for being so easily forgotten. In the end the book won't exactly be remembered for the minutiae and the small detail, but for the chutzpah is has to convey its silliness to us. But it certainly does have the chance of being remembered for a long time.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The pair last worked together with the sterling effort that was Oliver and the Seawigs. More sci-fi for this age group can be had with Jedi Academy 2: Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown.
You can read more book reviews or buy Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre at Amazon.com.
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