From School Library Journal
Grade 6-10-Josh, 13, and his mother, Joanna, are spending part of the summer at the village home of Josh's ailing grandmother. At first, the boy is sorry to leave London and his friends, but he soon becomes involved in a quest to learn more about his late uncle Patrick, who died when he was Josh's age. The family refuses to speak of Patrick, but Josh and Katherine, the 16-year-old next door, accidentally stumble upon a memoir that Joanna is writing. As the teens learn more about her childhood and those of her siblings, they begin to notice an unmistakable parallel between the tragic events of the past and a futuristic computer game that they are playing. They eventually discover that Patrick had a condition similar to autism and was committed to an institution by his father. Josh is able to help his mother and uncle come to terms with their brother's illness and be reunited with Patrick, who is in fact alive and living nearby. Rees does a marvelous job of injecting an atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty into the novel from the beginning. Dialogue, plot, and characters are notable for their authenticity and originality, yet the descriptive sentences are sometimes awkward and read more like detailed notes than coherent passages. The cover art, although eye-catching, is misleading as it shows a young Patrick confronting what appears to be an alien, and it may repel teens in search of realistic fiction. An original, intelligent novel from a fresh voice in YA literature.Leah J. Sparks, Bowie Public Library, MD
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5-7. Rees weaves together two stories that take place a generation apart. In one, a modern British teenager, Josh, who loves computer games, pries into skeletons in his family's closet. The second concerns Josh's mother's dysfunctional family at the dawn of the Space Age, especially two brothers: one fascinated by aliens; the other, Patrick, having a condition (actually a form of autism) not understood at the time. When tragedy shatters the neighborhood, strange Patrick is blamed and sent to an institution where he is said to have died. When Josh recognizes elements in his newest computer game that only Patrick could have created, the two stories come together. Readers expecting aliens will be disappointed, and the opening chapters are slow going. The convoluted mystery is filled with family drama, however, and the British perspective on the space race, Roswell, etc., is intriguing. Teens who liked Dennis Haseley's Getting Him
(1994), a less complex novel with a similar setting and themes, may want to give this a go. Catherine AndronikCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved