For some reason I thought this would be an amusing read to cheer me up after the dark intensity of Then by Julie Myerson – whoops, I got that wrong! But I don’t regret it. It’s a novel that takes familiar concepts and succeeds in creating something very fresh and involving, with a brave and unforgettable climax.
Standish Treadwell likes to keep his head down, especially since his best friend Hector kicked the football over the wall, and he and his parents then disappeared. Standish’s parents have already gone, and he lives with his canny silver fox of a Grandad. It’s 1957 and living in the Zone is no joke – standing out could get Standish into deep, deadly trouble. Especially since Grandad is hiding a Moon Man in the cellar…
Standish’s narration is very convincing and he’s an average teenage boy with a spark about him. It takes a while for the penny to drop, as he takes his world for granted, but this is a story where the Nazis won the Second World War and Standish is living in a totalitarian state. Part of the ongoing efforts of the ruling elite is to win the space race against America – the land of “Crocas-Colas” and cadillacs – and it’s the Resistance’s efforts to disrupt this that blows Standish’s world to smithereens. This is a shocking story in parts, but it’s not without charm, as our hero tries to interpret events in his own way. The ending is superb – and I have to admit, that sitting in the staffroom at work, it made me cry. You can’t say more than that.
Hot Key Books, 2013, ISBN 9781471400445