Escape from the Pipe Men! Hardcover – June 11, 2013
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From School Library Journal
- Lexile measure : 640L
- Grade level : 5 - 7
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0547859058
- ISBN-13 : 978-0547859057
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.21 x 8.25 inches
- Publisher : Clarion Books (June 11, 2013)
- Reading level : 10 - 12 years
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,502,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The action is non-stop as our two main characters Ryan and his little sister Becky struggle across the universe to obtain a cure for their poisoned father. There are twists, turns, and many moments of genuine peril when we are left wondering if our intrepid heroes will make it through. Surprisingly, there's not much violence as Ryan and Becky are most often forced to rely on their wits and diplomatic skills to achieve their goals and make it back to Earth.
This is an enthusiastic recommend for sci-fi fans as young as ten and as old as well...me. This is a fun, well written, intelligent story that only confirms my belief that Mary Thompson has some truly fantastic things going on in her head. We are lucky she has decided to share them with us.
Ryan and his family are Earthings who happen to be part of an intergalatic zoo. They live apart from the rest of Earth and are trained to think their Pipe Men overlords are wonderful. But when Ryan and his sister Becky go to look for a cure for their father's sickness, they find all sorts of species not quite so happy with the Pipe Men and begin to rethink their situation.
The action is rather madcap, and all the more exciting for it. Characters not so savory prove to be their only allies, a touch I can't help but like. The plot is simple to understand enough, yet Thompson still manages to exercise some creative muscles. The writing is fresh, the characters fun, and I could hardly put this down.
I highly recommend this book, especially to those middle readers. It's fun, heartwarming, and friendly, while still being respectably science fiction.
It starts out a bit confusing at first due to the different species i.e. aliens, from all the different planets are being introduced but it gets easier as the story moves along.
Great story for ages 10 and up, great for both boys and girls alike!
Ryan and Becky to the rescue for their father who was poisoned by another alien unintentionally. Their mom baked a cake with a note to pass a secret message to them. Ip, a Horn-Puff was to assist in helping them get to another portal without the Pipe Men (Masters) knowing.
Apparently the Pipe Men were stealing resources from different planets and all the other aliens kept in the intergalactic zoo were going to escape from them.
Along the way, they met with Front who is a key species in the book. Read on to find out what the truth really was!
I'm going to explain what the pipe men is actually about. For the reader, thats part of the journey. You don't really know where the book is going until the end. This may seem like a spoiler but if you are going to buy this book for your kid, or if you are sitting in a library checking out Amazon reviews, then you probably want to know this. I'm just going to give you a summary of what the book is actually about.
This is the story of a journey, just like so many other books. The children have to leave the relatively safe confines of their cage at the Pipe Man Zoo and go on an incredible journey to get an antidote and save their father. To escape, they just walk out a door that is never locked.
The backstory is that the Pipe Men have discovered a way to teleport around the universe and they use this to their advantage. And so they are rising up above the other races. The pipe men are not very threatening and in other respects seem to be a relatively decent alien race, certainly no worse than humans. The Pipe men use this power to teleport around the universe to take other race's resources. They are like the Europeans trading beads for Manhattan Island, and all the other alien races get to play the part of the American Indians. Which doesn't go down too well with the other aliens, as you can imagine.
I could only find the Pipe Men guilty of a darwinistic tendency to do what was best for themselves. Sure, they took Earth's resources, sure they had a zoo with aliens from other races. But we don't get the impression that they are evil by any stretch.
Now that we have that backstory out of the way, its time to talk about our plot. The pipe men use one particular alien that they have found, an inter-dimensional being, to accomplish their teleportations. This hurts the inter-dimensional being, who manipulates the children into helping him. (Side note: All the alien races try to "use" the humans to accomplish their own goals, which I think is very realistic). This inter-dimensional alien uses the children to free himself while the children are trying to get the antidote for their father. I believe that the title refers to this inter-dimensional being's escape, not the children's escape, which isn't obvious. The inter-dimensional being is the one who really wants to escape, and does.
Without this alien's "manipulative help" the children would certainly have failed. This makes the story far easier to accept, knowing that this very powerful being was actually manipulating them and helping them out of dangerous situations. The children do get the antidote, and the alien gets freed, so there is a happy ending in those two camps.
Thats what its about. Freeing a particular alien while getting an antidote for Dad.
The author doesn't do such a good job here. Ryan, the main protagonist, has no personality. Perhaps its impossible to describe his personality in human terms since he was mostly raised in a pipe men zoo. His younger sister, Becky, also has no personality, but she was born in the pipe men zoo. After reading the whole book I can't tell you what their personalities are like, they don't even act childish.
Becky plays the role of the "unlikely savant". Despite her young age, she understands teleportation devices as good as the aliens and better than her older brother.
So, the way the two characters play off each other is that Ryan is "normal" and his sister "randomly" understands inter-dimensional travel. I think the author did a passable job here. It could have been worse, but it also could have been waaaay better.
The fact that the kids have no real personalities reduces the amount of humor and fun in the story, in my opinion.
I think that the author did a good job of creating a host of aliens for the kids to interact with. We have the insect alien, the dog alien, the hedgehog alien, the Pipe alien (of course), and a blob alien who all work together, although very unwillingly. The aliens were interesting and acted the same consistently throughout the book, making you feel like they were different species. All the text in the book that is spoken in the main alien language is in one font, and all english spoken is in another font, which really helps to keep track of how things are being said. I think the author did a very good job here, certainly better than the main character development.
The action sequence in the end was the weakest part of the book, in my opinion. It was a letdown after an otherwise well written book. It was supposed to be climactic and it fell flat for me, but I think younger readers would think it was fine.
I would have liked to see the Pipe Men get to explain why they do what they do, but, it doesn't happen. We only get to hear one side of the story.
Otherwise I think it was a "fun read" and the science fiction was amusing.
Well, I hope this review helps you make your decision. Its a nice book which never brings up touchy subjects like guy-girl relationships, broken families, the dark side humanity, or whatever. Its very safe, and its fun. A good casual book.