In Crash Landing: Hyperspace High, Book 1. Zac Harrison serves up a delicious premise for a kid’s book series: a boy, John Riley, from Earth, gets picked up by the wrong school bus and ends up in a high-school populated by aliens.
Given a silver-tongued performance in a British accent by Michael Fenton Stevens, Crash Landing follows John as he attempts to befriend classmates who have silver hair and resemble insects and survives a life-threatening first field trip.
Stevens has the polished tone of a nature-documentary narrator but effectively conveys tension and levity in this charming tale that’s sure to appeal to kids who love science fiction.
When John Riley gets on the wrong coach, he ends up at an elite academy on an enormous spaceship, where his classmates are aliens, the food is disgusting, and the penalty for failing exams is harsh. Can he show that he deserves a place at Hyperspace High?
A quick, fun SF adventure that's perfect for MG boys (and girls).
Source: I received this book free from Audible Studios. My opinions are my own.
Crash Landing by Zac Harrison, read by Michael Fenton Stevens, published by Audible Studios (2013) / Length: 3 hrs 55 min
This is Book #1 of 6 in the "Hyperspace High" series. All are available on audio.
This is a fun story that both I and my young nieces & nephews enjoyed.
There are a few over used elements here: 3 friends (2 boys & 1 girl), 1 snooty nemesis boy, and a wise headmaster at a boarding school. But it is very different in many ways as well. First of all, this is SF. And second, the series is a set of independent adventures that take place over a single semester, rather than a larger tale divided up into years.
I like that they didn't try and Americanize this. That means younger readers may need to find out what things such "trainers" are (sneakers).
John: A fairly regular boy, who is nevertheless good enough at maths to qualify for a scholarship to a fancy British boarding school, too bad he got on the wrong bus.
His roommate is very large, and has wings. His female friend seriously struggles in her classes, but is an ace pilot. I really could have done without the Draco clone (although here he has a robotic sycophant rather than bully sidekicks).
My favorite bit of "tech" is ZEPP, the computer's AI, who's "almost like a person" but with a much bigger brain.
Each book is very short, I am hoping that we get more information about the various species in later books (especially those of his best friends & the headmaster).
This is a very fast moving book without a lot of filler. We start with John waking up late the morning of he's supposed to leave for boarding school. I'm glad the author took some time there to establish his family though. We end with the information that John is going to be allowed to stay on Hyperspace High (not a spoiler, as there are 5 more books of his adventures there). Since this is the first book, we do get some stuff in the middle about him having to cram hard to catch up.
--John's interactions with his parents. They seem really great, and as involved as they can be with their son in boarding school.
--Sound cancelling bed alcoves - good for John, since his roommate snores. One year, my dorm room was ground floor facing a very busy street; I really could have used one of these.
Character voices differentiated = Yes. / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes. His voice is very deep, especially for a MG series, so they don't sound feminine but it's OK / Accents = Sounded good to me. Very lightly British (probably what is known as mid-Atlantic) / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good / Speed = Good my usual 1.25 might be a tiny bit fast for a first time listen.
I mentioned parallels to a certain very popular MG series above. It continues with a narrator whose voices sometimes reminded me of Jim Dale.