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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 4 October 2009
I bought this book because I had read and enjoyed two other of Mark Haddons books (curious incident and spot of bother) both of which I had really enjoyed, particularly curious incident. However, as soon as it arrived I realised that I had made a big mistake because this is very clearly a children's rather than an adult's book. In retrospect I should have read the blurb about it more fully before I clicked the purchase button, as it is clearly labelled as 'children's fiction'. However, since I had shelled out the money I read it anyway. It is a story narrated from the perspective of a young boy aged about 12-13. His older sister tells him he is going to be expelled from school and desperate to find out if this is true, with the help of his friend, he bugs the staff room at school. However, what he finds out is something far more interesting and this launches him on an adventure that is literally out of this world. The story roars along at a fair pace and I think it will probably appeal to children in the 8-11 age range (hence 4 stars). Kids older than 11 probably won't be sucked in to the storyline. If you have children in the 8-11 age range it would be a good birthday or Christmas gift. If you don't have children in this age bracket then don't make the same mistake I did. This is nothing like `curious incident' or `spot of bother'.
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This book was originally published as Gridzbi Spudvetch!, or that was an earlier version of the book published in 1993. Unlike most books that are republished after the author achieves a level or notoriety or fame that should have stayed unpublished, this one is a phenomenal book. There is an interesting preface in which Haddon says not to name a book Gridzbi Spudvetch because no one knows how to pronounce it nor will they buy it. He also talks about wanting to update the book and how when working on it he changed nearly every sentence, updating and improving the story. If that is the case, he did an amazing job.

The story is told from Jimbo's perspective; he is telling the story of his friendship, and the strange things he and his friend discover. And it all starts because his older sister tries to put one over on him, by making him think he is going away to a school for dummies. The inside cover of the book states: "It was a stupid, insane, suicidal idea. Which makes it quite hard to explain why I decided to help. I guess it boils down to this. Charlie was my best friend. I missed him. And I couldn't think of anything better to do. Really stupid reasons which were never going to impress the police, the headmistress or my parents. Looking back, I reckon this was the moment when my whole life started to go pear-shaped." This is a story about aliens, it is a story about growing up, it is a story about families but most of all it is a story about friendship. It was a light, easy read, the prose flowing smoothly and effortlessly. I read it in two sittings, and enjoyed it so much I am going to track down the original version to do a comparison. It is a wonderful book for adults, or teens.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 April 2010
I'm one of the legion of adult readers who quite enjoyed "The Curious Incident of the dog in Night Time." I didn't catch up with his last book (A Spot of Bother), but thought I'd check out this latest one. The first thing potential readers should know about the book is despite the jacket copy declaring it a "hilarious adventure for all ages," the book is intended for children ages 8-12 or so. As a result, it's very short (adult readers should be able to read it comfortably in about 90 minutes), it's entirely "clean" (no curse words, etc.), and the characters are pretty thinly developed. As such, it's very well suited to its intended audience, but adult readers will probably find it too simple. The second thing potential readers should know about the book is that it's not new -- it's a retitled (and possibly revised) version of Haddon's 1993 book Gridzbi Spudvetch!, which was only published in the UK. So, if you take issue with popular authors repackaging their backlist, you've been warned.

The story itself concerns two young (maybe 10-11ish?) boys who stumble into an intergalactic adventure (that's not a spoiler, the cover image of a rocket ship kind of gives it away). When eavesdropping on their teachers, they are confused by a sudden transition to gibberish. Intrigued, they investigate further, and soon find themselves on the run from mysterious men in grey suits with lasers in their fingers! (The cover of the original UK version actually has a pretty cool comic-book style drawing of a scene involving one of those fingers.) Anyway, wacky adventures ensue, with some genuine peril thrown in. The story has some potentially interesting elements, especially the unemployed father of one of them. However, these are relegated to background roles, and, as with all classic children's lit, it's up to the kids to save the day.

Ultimately, I guess it might appeal to younger boy readers -- especially those with a taste for sci-fi stuff. It zips along at a rollicking pace, and there are enough unexpected twists to satisfy young readers with short attention spans. But there's no way I would recommend it to adults, unless you're reading it with/to your kid.
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on 8 October 2009
I have read two Haddon books and must admit that I also loved this one. Even if it was rated as a childrens book I enjoyed it very much and had to laugh often. Try it, it has only 200 pages:-)
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on 15 December 2009
BOOM received by my grandson for his 9th birthday. He rated it 'brilliant, fantastic,' Hes reading it for the second time.
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on 30 June 2013
I read this with my ten year old son and he absolutely loved it ( as did I) it would make a great book for reading to a class of key stage two children. I actually purchased it by mistake but I'm so glad tat I did -humour, adventure, mystery, si -fi -it had everything.
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on 1 January 2013
Review: This is definitely a children's book with not much to appeal to the older reader but I thought that it was good at what it was meant to do. The characters were interesting and believable and the plot was interesting and engaging.
It's not something I would be dying to read again but I would recommend it to younger readers.

Favourite character: Jim
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on 17 September 2013
A fantastic read, very exciting and funny. Have just read another of Mark Haddon' s books which I loved too, The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night time.....excellent author........................................................Amazon want me to write more but I need to go and cook the dinner....'..........................'........................Gah!
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on 20 September 2013
After reading 'Curious Incident' I decided to download another of Marks books,a few pages in I realised this wasn't really a story aimed at adults,however I enjoyed it and found it to be an easy to read book with a few comical quotes and descriptions. Reminded me of Men In Black!
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on 28 April 2012
We bought this for our 8 year old son, who read a couple of pages on his own and gave up. I picked it up and read it to him as a bedtime story over a few nights and we were both hooked on it. An entertaining read with an interesting and unexpected storyline.
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