Mark Griffiths Books

Review on The Bookbag

On a school trip to an observatory, a scientist is being very stupid and silly in trying to impress the class of visitors about his work, which is very ironic considering what will happen to two of them. When the session leads to the discovery of an asteroid on its way to collide fatally with Earth, Lance and Tori are shocked to see the evil lizard they had to defeat in the first book in this series being asked for help. Soon they have to enter a cat-and-mouse chase across the very galaxy the scientist was so uncool about, to save the planet – and, as the title says, Lance’s sister.

It’s good that you don’t need to have read about the first time these children saved the Earth and got absolutely no fame or thanks in return. The recap is done in a very nice way and immediately we’re on a rip-roaring, fast-moving comedy sci-fi adventure for primary schoolers. Even with space lizards jumping body from one creature to another, and with several equally unlikely characters, the plot is very clearly conveyed – although a couple of words stood out as being a bit technical for the young.

Certainly the large print shows the audience sought here, and they’re served quite well. Here is a good cooperative relationship for Lance and Tori, so both genders could enjoy this, here is an alien friend for them even, and there are copious things on kids’ wish-lists – throwing gunk at adults in power, magically-powered ice cream, and the whole space-faring, saving planets idea.

If anything I think the race-against-time side of the book is a bit more successful than the comedy. I did laugh – especially at the dinosaur’s thought-bubble – but Griffiths seemed to go for a gag-for-everyone approach (witness the PM’s name, which few youngsters will get) and not a sustained level for one particular target audience. That said, there is a good levity throughout, as opposed to joke-telling, and in among the sort of slapstick Douglas Adams style there is enough to make this enjoyable. This might be book two of three, five or more, but this is definitely a marker for a vivid, imaginative, pacey series, and one I can recommend.

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