When four Australian teenagers take a super-secret craft on a joyride, trouble ensues in this comic YA sci-fi novel.
For the last four years, 16-year-old Harry Newman has been spying on his father to learn more about his top-secret project at a remote Royal Australian Air Force base. On the pretext of researching a school project, Harry finagles his way in to the highly restricted Hangar GF1 along with his three best pals. The craft inside is like nothing they’ve seen, and Harry wants a closer look. His friends have varying motivations: Robbie Jones, is obsessed with flying planes; Max Palmieri wants to sell photos of the secret project, make a fortune, and then meet whom he considers to be the perfect woman: Paris Hilton. Jack Reedman, who has regular panic attacks, just doesn’t want to be left behind. Once onboard, though, the boys are at the mercy of Candy, the craft’s master computer: “What luck to have four unsuspecting teenagers to play with, and it wasn’t even Christmas,” it muses. The resulting trip takes the four friends far beyond what they’d dreamed the craft was capable of, and when they land, they stumble into an absurd yet dangerous situation. With the help of a local ally and their own wits, can they return home intact? Many elements in this debut novel for teens don’t bear close examination as good science, but this is no bother, as it’s all in fun. Brooks has a well-developed sense of the ridiculous, as when Candy torments the teenagers with her favorite song, “The Candy Man” from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. But despite the many absurdities, Brooks gives the foursome a chance to show their mettle; for example, Max belittles Jack frequently, but events eventually reveal Max to be the true coward. Similarly, Harry, whose restless, searching nature is always “prodding him to keep planning or moving forward,” manages to make use of his cleverness and perseverance in the here and now.
A fast-paced, humorous adventure that brings out the true character of its protagonists.