Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm

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Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm

Buy Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fabulous space adventure in which a group of children need to find a way home in a crippled spaceship while avoiding space pirates and mysterious but dangerous aliens. Pacy, exciting, mind-expanding. We loved it!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: January 2020
Publisher: Nosy Crow
ISBN: 978-1788005920  

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Thirteen-year-old Beth and her parents board the transport ship Orion ready for a new life on Eos Five. Their new home is still being terra-formed and life there isn't going to be easy, but it is going to be a fresh start. As Beth's mum puts it, There's a future waiting for us. A chance to make our own decisions, create our own lives.

Life aboard the Orion is initially exciting and intimidating but soon settles down. The children aboard attend lessons - Beth is concentrating on a command curriculum along with the Orion's captain's son, Vihaan. Vihaan and his friend Arnold are slightly older and consider themselves superior. But there's also Mikkel, Lauryn and Lucille - all with their own ambitions and skills they're determined to develop and bring to a new life on Eos Five.

Their journey is punctuated by Jumps and Sleeps - speeding up the long, long journey through space. During one Jump, there's an Event. An accident. The Orion's AI, called Ship, wakes Beth from Sleep and designates her captain. The adults are all uninjured but the Event means that they cannot be Woken. So it's up to Beth and her five friends to find a way to the nearest colony so that the grown ups can be restored. It's not going to be easy: the ship is heavily damaged, space pirates called Scrapers search and pillage vulnerable vessels, and a mysterious alien species called the Videshi vigorously defends its territory. And even worse? Ship appears to be lying... 

Oh, I loved this middle grade space opera! It's fast-paced and exciting and has a mystery thriller at its heart. Who are the Videshi? Nobody's ever even seen one, only their ships. Will the Scrapers find the drifting Orion? Why would Ship lie? And it's also a tale of courage - can Beth step up and lead her crew? Or is she too weak, stymied by her empathy? I loved Beth. She's impulsive at some points but also indecisive at others. But she's determined and that's what gets her through. The supporting cast is well-rounded and interesting - Vihaan, who's aloof and a bit patrician; Arnold who can be a bully but is a whizz with mechanics and also very brave; Lucille who is shy and nervous but can see patterns others can't; solid, steady, methodical Mikkel; bouncy, quickwitted Lauryn with her genius for coding. It's a fabulous read.

The story has a satisfying conclusion but there is room left for more. And I, for one, would like to see more. A book two about Beth and her friends, please!

Lovers of space and space operas might also enjoy Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman which is set in space but riffs on Othello. And there's also the fabulous Railhead by Philip Reeve in which human spacefarers travel not by spaceship, but by train.

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Buy Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Orion Lost by Alastair Chisholm at Amazon.com.

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