Friday, September 9, 2011

Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett

Only You Can Save Mankind (1992) is a children's book from Terry Pratchett, master of humor fantasy. This book is a little different from his usual fare, being neither fantasy nor very humorous. I'm still not sure what to make of it.

Length: 4h 11m; Grade: 2.5
Random House Audio, 2007

Johnny Maxwell spends his free time playing video games, but what should he do when the game's aliens want to surrender? I had high expectations for this book based on its author but was disappointed. I can't decide if it was the book or my expectations that are to blame. I think a little of both. The characters are well-defined and interesting. I liked Johnny and his friends, especially their nicknames for each other. The premise is similar to Ender's Game and The Last Starfighter, but both of those properties handled the story better. I have special objections to some of the sci-fi logistics which probably wouldn't bother an actual child but drove me crazy. I also expected the book to be a lot funnier than it is. There's nothing offensive, and there are a few chuckles, but it's not laugh out loud funny. The second and third Johnny Maxwell books bring Johnny back to Earth, so I'll give them a shot and see if the trilogy gets any better.

Reading - I wasn't familiar with Richard Mitchley before listening to this book, and I found him a very energetic reader. I like his British Welsh (!) accent. He does an especially good job with the video game sound effects.

Final thoughts - Not a bad kid's book, but adult listeners of children's fiction might want something better.

For - kids who have no experience with the video-games-save-the-world genre
Otherwise - listen to Ender's Game or Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series staring with Wee Free Men

Nums - those video game sound effects really were very well done
Nits - was it all a dream?

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