The Jamie Drake Equation
I came to this book with high expectations as I am a big fan of Christopher Edge, having loved the Twelve Minutes to Midnight series. I was not sure what to expect, and in fact my 10 year old stole the book away and read it before I did. In one sitting! I was surprised by how quickly I was sucked into the story. The text is slightly larger on the page and I got through quite a large chunk very quickly. Having worked in a school and having two school aged children, I found myself easily picturing the scenes as they look place. The story, as well as being engaging, had nice added scientific detail, which I appreciated. The family drama twist to the story came as more of a surprise to me than the space mission plot twist, but that could be because I've watched too much Doctor Who! There was sufficient peril to the story to grip you, but not so much that it would put off younger readers. Although my seven year old would probably not chose to pick up this book to read, I feel sure she would enjoy it, and I could see this being an excellent story to be read aloud in class to children as young as Year 3. The story moves at a good pace, there are interesting and some mysterious characters, and although there is an alien in the plot, somehow it does not feel too far fetched! I'm not quite sure how. In fact I found the alien a more believable character than the Grandad! Chrisopher Edge has worked as a teacher and some of the references in his book make his teaching experience clear. There are lots of things that could be taken from the story that are staples of the classroom - designing your own alien etc. I can see how it would be easy to link the book to a space theme / topic in primary school but the family element also adds a nice PHSE twist to it.
Reviewed by: Alison Urquhart
The Jamie Drake Equation
Jamie Drake's dad is famous. He's an astronaut, and he's currently orbiting the earth on the International Space Station, about 400kms above the planet's surface. Soon he will launch a series of tiny interstellar probes, which will search the galaxy for signs of alien life. What could possibly go wrong? Back on earth, Jamie misses his dad. Not only is he not around to help Jamie prepare for his algebra test, but he'll also be missing Jamie's 11th birthday. While his dad is in space, Jamie, his younger sister and his artist mother are living with his ex-rocker grandfather. To get away from the noise and chaos of his home life, Jamie goes for a walk and finds himself at a seemingly abandoned observatory. That's when things start to get weird. Despite having a very contemporary setting (smartphones, laptops and Skype are all key plot elements) I had a strong sense of nostalgia while reading The Jamie Drake Equation. This family drama/sci-fi-from-a-child's-eye-view story reminded me of classics from my own childhood - especially Chocky by John Wyndham and the film E.T. There is some real science and maths in here, too (Fibonacci sequence, golden ratio, how astronauts got to the toilet) as well as some big sci-fi ideas. It also addresses themes of responsibility, parental fallibility, family cohesion and growing up. The Jamie Drake Equation could be enjoyed by readers who like tales of science fiction, space travel, aliens, maths, defunct heavy metal bands called Death Panda, science and family drama, probably in the 9-12 age range.