Friday, September 9, 2011
Review - Aliens Stole My Body by Bruce Coville
Short review: Rod Albright has lost his body, and his father goes to track it down while Rod hides the knowledge the evil villain BKR needs to destroy the universe.
His body stolen
Mind in a strange alien
Must stop the villain
Full review: The final book in the series that began with Aliens Ate My Homework (read review), Aliens Stole My Body completes the adventures of Rod Albright, at least for now. As the title of the book says, the evil alien BKR has stolen Rod's body, and Rod's mind has been transferred into the body of the mature chibling Seymour to keep dangerous information contained in Rod's brain away from the villain.
For most of the story, Rod shares a brain with Seymour in Seymour's body: a six legged, one-eyed creature with no mouth or nose that breathes through its skin and "eats" via energy transference with a symbiotic creature. The only other characters Rod can communicate with are Seymour (sharing a brain makes this somewhat inevitable), and the mental master Snout. This has the effect of somewhat limiting the direct interaction the viewpoint character can have with much of the plot, and at times, this causes the book to drag. Rod's inability to speak and resemblance to an animal does come in handy at times, but at others (notably involving a brush with some exotic animal collectors) it has serious drawbacks.
The plot of the book starts up right where The Search for Snout (read review) left off as the crew of the Ferkel and Rod's newly found father decide how to deal with the numerous problems facing them. The group agrees that Rod's father and the Tar will try to hunt down BKR, Grakker and Phil will return to the Galactic Patrol headquarters to answer for turning renegade, while Rod (and Seymour), Elspeth, Madame Pong, and Snout will hide out to keep safe the knowledge locked up in Rod's brain that BKR needs to make his Universe-destroying weapon.
Most of the book takes place on the idyllic mostly uninhabited planet of Kryndamar, where Rod and his companions hide. They have a few adventures: weeping trees try to trap them, Rod runs afoul of some exotic animal traders, the whole group is plagued by an infestation of worms, and eventually, they uncover a spy sent by BKR to eavesdrop on them. Snout and Madam Pong take the opportunity to try to train Rod further in their respective specialties, but most of this portion of the book feels like filler to flesh out the pages before the spy is revealed and the gang sets out to try to protect Rod's mother and siblings from BKR.
After some adventures, Rod's family is reunited (although Rod is still not himself) and then they are captured by BKR using a subterfuge that is fairly transparent (although allowances have to be made given the age level the book is intended for). BKR proves himself to be as nasty as he has been built up to be. After a few abortive escape or rescue attempts, Rod is finally returned to his own body, and using the lessons he had learned from the Tar, Snout, and Madame Pong, overcomes BRK and foils his schemes.
The book is currently the last in the series, with BKR finally defeated and the Albright family reunited on Earth. The final fate of the crew of the Ferkel is left somewhat open-ended, as we are told what they expect is likely to happen as punishment for their going renegade, but the book doesn't actually cover that. The crew of the Ferkel also leave Rod with the capability of contacting them when he is ready to rejoin the Galactic Patrol. However, while Coville has left open the possibility of future installments in the series, since this book was written in 1998, I doubt that we will see one. I think this is something of a pity, as the series is one of Coville's better ones, and it makes for a very good introduction to space opera for a young reader. On the other hand, as this book drags somewhat, and is probably the weakest book in the series, maybe it is best that Coville stopped while the story was still fun and interesting.
Overall, the Rod Albright Alien Adventures series is a fun introductory space opera for kids that soft pedals the life-lessons in the story enough that they are not intrusive. This book, like the rest of the series, is one I would recommend for any younger reader.
Previous book in the series: The Search for Snout
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