Tuesday, 14 April 2020

A Godawful Small Affair by J B Morrison

Fifteen year old Zoe Love has gone missing from her home in Brixton. As her father alerts police, and a thorough search of the area is undertaken, her younger brother Nathan believes he has a better plan. A year earlier, Zoe claimed to have been abducted by aliens but no one believed her. Nathan thinks those same aliens have come back for her, and he, by getting abducted himself, is the only one who can bring Zoe back. He puts on his bright orange spacesuit costume, packs his rucksack with supplies - including a telescope, Swiss army knife, a Christmas cracker compass, and an MP3 player with Zoe's favourite David Bowie playlist - and waits. As the weeks drag on, and no aliens show up, even Nathan has to face the fact that maybe Zoe won't be coming home.

The previous books I've read by JB Morrison (once Jim Bob, the singer of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine) have been gentle comedies focusing on the life of 80-something Frank Derrick. A Godawful Small Affair is a change of pace with a total change in lead character. The story unfolds through the eyes and thoughts of ten year old Nathan, as he struggles to understand what has happened and tries to make sense of it in the only way he knows how - it's all down to aliens - and, although here and there lighter humorous moments peep through, the subject matter is serious.
Morrison handles the subject and perspective well, particularly his capturing of the mind-set of a ten year old, obsessed by anything and everything related to space. At first I thought we might be in a Stranger Things/ET- style scenario of actual aliens but we aren't; what happens to Zoe is an awfully familiar affair, seen so many times in the news.

There are plenty of 'missing person' novels out there, either following a police investigation or the unraveling of dramatic family secrets, but this is neither thriller nor high drama; following events from Nathan's perspective it manages to be both gentler and more devastating. It's a powerful book, heart-wrenching in its ending, but full of the love that binds family together.

Maryom's Review - 5 stars
Publisher - Cherry Red 
Genre - adult fiction

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