Book Title: Orion Lost (available here)
Author: Alastair Chisholm
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Publication Date: Jan 2020
Most Suitable For: UKS2-KS3
Reviewed By: Caroline Waldron, Teaching Assistant & Librarian
Beth is twelve. She and her family, along with lots of other families, are on their way to colonise a new planet in outer space. It is twenty-six light-years away and travelling at normal speed would take them almost 300,000 years to get there - which is why they ‘jump’ through folds in space. During jumps, everyone on board is put into a special sleep, during which the ship copies their memories and replaces them when they wake because the act of jumping wipes everything.
One day, however, something goes wrong and Beth is woken to be told by the ship’s onboard computer that she’s now Captain. All the adults are alive, but can’t be woken. Her second-in-command is a boy she hates. The rest of their new ‘crew’ is made up of two more girls and another boy. The ship has been damaged and needs repairs, but without any trained crew they need to make their way to safety (which is seven light-years away). In their race to safety they come across Videshi (alien life forms) and Scrapers (space pirates) and come to realise that they can trust no-one . . . not even themselves.
Orion Lost is a fast-paced thriller set in deep space. I love thrillers and this was unputdownable. It has beautiful descriptions of the vastness and loneliness of space and the feeling of insignificance against an infinite universe. I also loved the fact that, although the children are heroic in many ways, they also make mistakes, and covering up those mistakes nearly ends up costing them very dear. A very realistic look at the way children interact and work together.
I think this book could be read and enjoyed by children from Year 5 upwards. It should appeal to both boys and girls, and especially to anyone who has an interest in space or who enjoys thrillers. It is reminiscent of Michael Crichton’s books with the feeling that it ‘could’ happen (even if it never does).
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Caroline for reviewing it.
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