March 22, 2012

Review: Saucerers and Gondoliers, by Dominic Green

Author: Dominic Green
Title: Saucerers and Gondoliers
Series: Ant and Cleo (#1)
ISBN: 2940011471773
Publisher: Dominic Green (August 12th 2011)
Disclaimer: Copy received for review purposes.

Buy your copy: Kindle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Flying saucers do not land in country parks. They are not piloted by Englishmen. They do not bear nameplates saying "HAWKER SIDDELEY AVIATION." And they are never, ever filled with smuggled catering packs of Monster Munch.

Britain has had a top secret colony in space for decades. Unfortunately, the colony has grown tired of being run by the mother country - and the mother country has decided it's time to send in the troops. Between these two sides are Anthony Stevens and Cleopatra Shakespeare, abducted from England and hurled into a war between Britain, America, and the newly, fiercely independent United States of the Zodiac.

Where is the mysterious hidden colony of Gondolin? How did the United States of America come to have interstellar spacecraft in the 1950s? And who or what is Truman J. Slughound the Third? Find out in a story guaranteed to contain colour-changing aliens, Godless communists from Altair, rednecks from Barnard's Star, space fighters, rocket pistols, death by ecstasy, very bad hair, and more explosions than you can shake a stick at”
GoodReads’ blurb

This is a short book, so I’m going with a short review this time.

I went into this book hoping to love it, because the whole concept sounded so funny and original, but unfortunately I’m feeling quite puzzled after reading it.

I believe my issue is that I can’t seem to pinpoint the target audience for this book. This seems a very small thing, but in truth it’s quite important, I think, and the fact that this is unclear detracts a lot from the experience.

On the one hand, the book is humorous. It’s all about a couple of kids who get involved in a convoluted space war, with Russians and rednecks and Furby’s thrown in for good measure. That’s where my high expectations came from, and the concept seems to be good for all-age geeky readers.

Then, the characters have accents so thick that at times it gets uncomfortable to follow – I mean, one character who speaks weird is great, but the whole secondary cast sounds a bit too much. Still, no big deal.

What could be a big deal, though, is the word-choice. The kids (which seem really young at first and slightly older later) use a number of words that I’m fairly sure a kid from their environment wouldn’t use. For me, this was not just a matter of characterization – it was also a defining matter, because younger readers would get easily distracted or confused once you get started on the technicalities of fuselage. Anyway, the only real issue with this would be the target age: we’d assume that the book is intended for an older audience, and we’d probably be right.

I don’t think the younger kids would be able to appreciate the cultural British/American and Cold War jokes that make up the driving force of the plot anyway.

Unfortunately, if it’s for older readers, I’m finding the storyline too straightforward. The characters too closely resembling cartoons. The style too dry.

Of course, that’s a matter of personal taste. In a purely satire-slash-comedy manner, I guess the above things are all acceptable. Only, I kind of expected more – with comedy elements, of course, but more. And I’m usually a fan of British stiff-upper-lip humor, but this time around most of the scenes failed to deliver.

Except the Furby ones. Those were great, specially if you’ve owned one of those furry evil contraptions.

All in all, then, Saucerers and Gondoliers is a satire that will please an older audience who enjoy humor based on cultural and social references. I don’t think kids will really “get” it, and there’s a number of readers I know who wouldn’t find the punch line in the stereotypes either. So, yeah, an entertaining read... To be chosen with caution, I guess.


  1. Sounds like a really funny concept, but as you said in your review, when the target group isn't clear, it's a gamble. Let alone the fact that quite a few readers probably won't get the *jokes".
    Then again, is the writer an indie-author? The book might be a bit of an unpolished gem. Lots of potential.
    I'm a su**er for a central theme, though. Don't much like to read in circles, and sometimes (even if not the author's intention)a hidden-meaning laden story can have that effect. *Where's he going with that?*
    Great review! _yay_

    1. I think it could be a hidden gem, yes. It's just that I think it takes a particular brand of humor in the reader - then again, I'm particularly sensitive to cultural jokes and, with the exception of Terry Pratchett's I don't tend to like them too much. So that could be coloring my reaction.

      That, and the fact that I can't wrap my head around the idea of a middle-low class boy talking about fuselage and about lunar topography lol

      Thanks so much for stopping by, _yay_!