Friends, Foes, and Aliens - Which are Which?


Life in 1956 Vern Hollow is pretty slow. Mrs. Creedle (Jack's Mom) ran the Pines, a boarding house in town; his Uncle Bud owned the car repair shop; and Jack kept busy trying to stay away from Sergeant Webb and his son Grady. But life is f-a-r from boring. About the same time Dr. Ramona Shumway and her daughter Isadora arrived in search of car repair. Commander Xaafuun and her skreeps crew landed on earth in search of a Special Item for their queen. 

Turns out, Uncle Bud built the Special Item that  Xaafuun is determined to take to Skreepia! She despises  "ooman bings," though, and was most unhappy to discover the lot of them on board: Jack, Uncle Bud, Dr. Schumway and Isadora, and the two Webbs. When Jack and Isadora learn about a rebellion against the power-hungry skreeps, they risk it all to help the rebels. Except that may not get them back to earth. Now what?

Parent Perspective:
Mixed feelings. I loved the Twilight-Zone feel to the story and the 1950s setting. Jack and Isadora are a good team. While Jack and Uncle Bud have their issues, neither is "all bad." Had hoped that we would have seen some growth from the experience from Dr. Shumway and the Webbs, but they remain entrenched in their ways. 

The phonetic "interpretation" of human beings and Earth were cute, and while I appreciated the effort to make it easy for young readers to "get" new words, there just got to be too many of them. Along a similar line, the trek through the mountains and the issues onboard the skreeps ship got tedious and harder to follow. Got about 80% through and then jumped to the last couple chapters. For those reasons, I struggle to recommend The Doom Machine.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who like stories with that Twilight-Zone feel will easily get drawn into The Doom Machine. The illustrations give an added dimension to the detailed descriptions of place and people.

Content Awareness Factors:

The author does a pretty good job using phonetic represeentation for alien words. That said, some readers may still find it hard and/or frustrating to read those words. 

Type of Book:
This is an illustrated middle grade science fiction novel set in the 1950s.
Educational Themes:

The Doom Machine is meant for fun reading. Fear of UFOs was real in the 1950s, and it could be fun to look up some of the theories and news reports of the time.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
11 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow or skip. It was interesting, but it did seem to bog down.

Title The Doom Machine
Author Mark Teague
Publisher Blue Sky Press © 2009
Illustrators Mark Teague
ISBN 9780545151429
Material Galley
Cost $25.00
Genres Family, Friendship, Humor, Science Fiction, Religion
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