Book review

The Angel Factory by Terence Blacker (2001)

So, how confident are you, that if you take a swift look around, all the people that you see are definitely human beings?

This story is strong stuff. It is about a wholesale alien invasion, but whether it is meant for the best, to protect mankind, or for more sinister purposes, is for you to discover.

Thomas Wisdom lives in a perfect family. He has loving, understanding parents, an affectionate older sister, a comfortable home, he does well at school, and they are all physically attractive. He has a slightly oddball best friend, Gip, but when they hang out together in the park, the only thing that Thomas can think of to moan about is the regularity of his parents' habits:

'Sometimes I wish they would get drunk now and then.' I laughed guiltily. 'Or lose their tempers. Or shout at me when I do something wrong. Everything's so perfect in their lives. They even hold hands in public.'
'Weird,' said Gip.
'Everything has to be done together, as a family, this great Wisdom family team. They work together. We go to California for our holidays every year together. And you know what I've noticed recently? That they even go to the lavatory every morning at the same time. One after another. Everything they do is so orderly and ... regular.'
Gip was looking at me oddly.
'I don't make a habit of studying these things,' I muttered. 'I just notice stuff.'

Well, now, obviously, the surest way to spoil a good thing is to sneak into Tom's father's study while the house is quiet and have a look on his computer files. Gip locates a strange file full of strings of numbers. He takes it away to try to decode the information. It's fair to say that Tom has a guilty conscience about this, but nothing can prepare him for the shock that he gets when the code is cracked. The information relates to his own origins, but questions immediately arise about the rest of his family too.

This book is really about loyalty, trust and betrayal. No-one in Tom's life is actually who he always thought they were - not his parents, nor his best friend, nor his teachers - and given the wholesale nature of the deception, it is very difficult for him to decide whose interest they really have at heart. Does mankind need saving from itself? Is it morally acceptable to trample over a few harmless individuals in order to secure the greater good of mankind? Or is something going terribly badly astray here? And what could Thomas Wisdom do about it?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a horror book really, but subtle. Highly recommended!

Aieee! Even the dog!

What can I read next?

If you enjoyed this book, I think you might enjoy this one by Rachel Anderson, set in a revolting future:

Lois Lowry has written a book about a young boy selected to bear the burden of the past history of mankind:

Or possibly this mysterious story by Kate Thompson might interest you:

You could look at this one by Jenny Nimmo about a strange boy with a questionable background:

And anything by David Almond is slightly haunting:

Of course, if the theme of trust and betrayal attracts you, Robin Jarvis deals with it very well in his new book, also concerning alien visitations:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

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