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Olly, Aylsham High School

Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth

So far, 306 pages into this unique novel, I have been impressed and disappointed. There are many debatable reasons for this. Two of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s books have been read to me at primary school, Millions and Cosmic, which I thought had above-average plots and memorable characters.
To start off with, the characters are genius. So far, we are introduced to two main characters, Prez and Sputnik. Prez is a boy, I’m guessing around ten years old, who has been separated from his Grandad because of, what seems like, dementia. He is in care and has lived with a family for a short period before we meet him. Oh, and he never speaks. I think the author may have forgotten this while writing the beginning, as twice Prez has said something for effect.
Sputnik is an alien from a faraway planet that has been miniaturised. Only Prez can see he is an alien, the rest of us see him as a dog. He is good at mindreading, which is how he communicates with Prez. Very mischievous, and at one point robbed a store with a gun. Okay, maybe criminal rather than mischievous. Sputnik is the most memorable character from this book.
The plot, so far, is solid. Sputnik comes down from another planet and needs Prez to write a list of ten things everyone should see on Earth in order for it not to be destroyed. Yes, it is another story about the Earth not getting destroyed. However, I wouldn’t describe the aliens doing the destroying baddies, though. That’s it, so far.
The writing from Frank Cottrell Boyce would be brilliant if I was eight. I can’t knock him for it, though, because this is his target audience. A review on the back of the book says, “Comedy gold for seven-plus readers.” The events in the book would have been genuinely funny if I was younger.
Overall, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth would have been a classic to me if I was younger. The characters are memorable, especially Sputnik, however Prez’s twist of not speaking is also a winner. The plot is original as it shows how the creatures who will destroy the Earth aren’t necessarily baddies and gives Earth a chance to prove itself first.

Posted on: 26th May 2017 at 11:52 am

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