November 22nd, 2012

Blast Off Space Orville

Space Orville is a 16-year-old computer gamer living in the future. After being recruited by UPS, the intergalactic CIA of the distant future, he is sent on a mission to do no less than save the universe. Off he goes, equipped only with his own unique skills and a special all-purpose backpack called Kahoots. Get it? Every time he needs something he just has to remind himself it’s “in Kahoots”.

Encompassing a fireworks display of language, action and ideas, this book turned out to be a kaleidoscope of wild images, connections and sensations, all tied together in an intricate structure with highly likable characters. I absolutely loved this book and am now combing through my Christmas present list to see who all I can give it to.

No pun intended, this book rockets along, as Space Orville travels through space on his mission which will require him to use the Fog Napkin to stymie the evil plan of Bizmo the Inconceivable and his Boggler. Along the way, Space Orville meets a number of endearing characters who join him on the mission and also help him to understand the spiritual and mechanical underpinnings of the universe.

Space Orville has a sort of R2D2 helper named NeutroFuzz, which gives occasion to dozens of new verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Embarrassed, NeutroFuzz “pinkified and dimbled.” Later, “muted finklings came from NeutroFuzz.” The spaceships have names like the Bella Fonty, the Rog Shuggoth, or Hooba, the Nerve Banana, and in some cases personalities, such as Robard, a spaceship with a scathing sense of irony.

I enjoyed the constant word games and vocabulary hijinks. There are all sorts of strange gadgets and foods in this made-up future world, but the names are hilarious. Space Orville’s favorite breakfast, made in a foodulator, is Happy Scraps tapioca puffs.

Zapping his way through the different layers of the universe, will Space Orville manage to complete his mission and get home again? I wll not reveal the answer here, but I will say this book introduced me to new ideas about the relationships between space and time, language, and the dreaming versus the real world. A classic for YA readers young and old, Space Orville deserves a place on every bookshelf.