Up until recently Moontrug was not a fan of science fiction books. E.T. kind of stressed her out and even WALL-E made her feel a bit shivery. But SF Said’s latest book, Phoenix, is packed full of the best aliens ever – and Moontrug is starting to realise that there are boundless stories lingering up there in the stars. Phoenix is a cracker of a book, as Moontrug knew it would be after meeting the author, SF Said, back in October (click here to read about that little adventure). But when the book started topping Best of 2013 Children’s Book charts Moontrug knew she had to start reading it right away…
Lucky thinks he’s an ordinary Human boy. But one night, he dreams that the stars are singing – and wakes to find an uncontrollable power rising inside him. Now he’s on the run, racing though space, searching for answers. In a galaxy at war, where Humans and Aliens are deadly enemies, the only people who can help him, are an Alien starship crew – and an Alien warrior girl, with neon needles in her hair. Together, they must find a way to save the galaxy. For Lucky is not the only one in danger. His destiny and the fate of the universe are connected in the most explosive way… For a sneak preview at the book trailer, click here. Its tingly strangeness is full of magical supernovas and dark black holes.
Even from the opening lines of the book, SF is onto a winner. He talks of ‘a million points of silver light, shining in the black,’ and of the ‘small, soft, silvery sound, like the chime of a faraway bell.’ The writing is so ‘fierily poetic’ that you end up feeling the stars aren’t just calling Lucky; they’re calling you, too, up into their sparkling galaxy. And the writing just gets better and better as the book goes on. An Alien called Mystica tells Lucky that ‘the stars call across the immensities of space – like great whales singing in the oceans deep, or bells chiming out, like silver in the black – we hear their songs, and we feel the truth inside ourselves.’ SO COOL. Moontrug is secretly hoping that she might discover she’s in fact a Startalker in disguise. Unlikely though – because Moontrug’s as clumsy and ‘unmeditative’ as you can get, like some explosive ball of misdirected enthusiasm. Not sure how the stars would respond to someone like that… Moontrug will settle with the knowledge from the Professor that she’s part star instead: ‘You see, Lucky, everything in the universe is made of atoms and elements that were created in the heart of the stars, billions of years ago. Even our own bodies. You are entirely made of stardust.’
Phoenix is bursting with stunning illustrations by Dave McKean. Somehow he makes black and white squiggles look so enchanting, so mind-bogglingly magical, that he’s able to conjure up space in just a few pages.
On top of fabulous writing and brilliant illustrations, Phoenix also boasts a fantastically fast-paced plot: Shadow Guards are bent on ripping brainscans, Supernovas are exploding and Astral Martial Arts are being done on a MASSIVE scale. And while all of that is going on, Mystica is brewing up Xoco – the alien version of hot chocolate which smells like a ‘strange mixture of gunpowder, chocolate and spice’ – and Lucky is discovering important truths: ‘Lucky looked at the world, laid out beneath them like a tapestry, or an open book… “But just because it’s going to die one day…doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting for. Maybe it matters even more, because it’s all we’ve got.” ‘ Despite the vastness of the galaxy, Lucky realises that we ‘matter.’ And that’s a truth worth hearing.
Lucky’s warrior-friend, Bixa, is original and as feisty as they come. I mean, anyone who uses ‘moonbrain’ as an insult is going to get you on side. And wow, what an ending the book has… Lucky’s realisation of who he is is SPECTACULARLY good and Bixa’s realisation of his significance is heartbreakingly cool. Nice work, SF Said – Phoenix has earned a place up on Moontrug’s Altocumulus Tower. The Tower is growing nicely in size these days, jostling for space amongst the clouds. Who knows, perhaps the tower will reach so high soon that the books will start hearing the ‘small, soft, silvery sounds’ of the stars…
(Extra moontrug comment for SF Said himself: I reckon the ‘S’ of your name stands for ‘Star.’ Star-Flyer? Star-Finder? Hmmmmm…)