Operation Stargazer is a wondrous, fantastical tale for younger teenagers and doubtless the occasional adult. I certainly enjoyed it.
The story takes place here, on Earth and on Mars. A young man, Bill, finds himself obsessed with Mars and decides over a school holiday to build spaceship. Yes, I know, how can a child build a space craft? But this story is written with the imagination of HG Wells and let us not forget, trains don’t leave from platform 13 and 3/4’s! Anyway, suspend your cynical adult mind and imagine the space craft zooming off the face of the planet only for the occupant to realise he may have made a terrible mistake. Bill faces death, until a miracle occurs that sees him whisked to Mars by technology we will never understand.
Once on Mars he discovers not little green men, but a complex society given over to peace and harmony. An ecological idyll in which he learns he can help create the same thing on Earth.
He also discovers these people, his friends, are threatened by aliens not so friendly. These evil creatures want to dominate the solar system and in the process destroy Earth.
When he returns, Bill is forced to face the horror of humanity at its worst. He his captured, manipulated, lied too and shot at by American and Russians. When he tries to escape the Russians who’ve kidnapped him and his companion Sonia, he is beaten half to death. Will his friends from Mars hear his cries for help and save his life?
This book is a marvellous first time novel. Chris clearly understands children and they way they think. His story is simply written but is never condescending and deals with many complex human emotions and motifs. The action races along so fast you are left reeling whenever you try to put the book down. With subjects from environmental collapse to the gentle budding of a first love, to the causes and consequences of war, the author weaves a complex narrative through Bill’s young eyes. If your children, or you, enjoy the excitement of something like Dr Who or the Sarah Jane Adventures on the BBC, you will love this, it is that much fun and that good.