My daughter thrust this book into my hands one morning.
“Mum, you’ve got to read this – it’s really gripping – it won the Blue Peter award for book you can’t put down,” she said, as she dashed off to catch the school bus.
In fact she’d been up half the night reading it. So there has to be something about this book that makes it so special.
I read it, and she was right. It is really gripping. The question is, why?
I think there are a number of reasons that this book works so well.
The obvious ones are pacing, Ali manages to get this just right, and tension - the slow build up of the unanswered questions and suspicious characters – both of which draw the reader towards the story’s thrilling climax. It has all the elements of a good thriller – a brilliant scientist – cryogenics – government conspiracy – Russian spies and the underlying mysterious disappearance to cap it all!
But in my opinion what makes this book special is the underlying killer concept.
Kids these days love Enid Blyton just as much as they did 60 years ago. I loved them and my kids love them. Go into any bookshop and you’ll see at least one entire shelf dedicated to the likes of the Famous Five and the Secret Seven.
So to take two kids from the fifties, who might have walked straight out of these books, and transplant them into the 21st Century is going to be good. We’re familiar enough with the era (thanks to Enid) to enjoy their reaction to our modern world, and this brings in some lovely touches of humour which balance the tension so very well. And conversely we have the reaction of the modern kids to the old 50s equipment and attitudes.
And it is this combination of the old meets the new that, in my opinion, really gives this book its edge.
So in a nutshell, my analysis of this one is: Killer Concept.