A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there is not much to be concerned about in this book. A couple of main characters have run-ins with the law (building illegal rockets, underage driving, stealing answers to a math test), but it becomes clear that in many cases they've been set up by the town bully and his father, or unwittingly broke the law. The main characters are in danger for most of the book as they try to save Earth from becoming a slave planet, but there are many endearing moments as they come together to save the world. There are many strong female characters, and Dr. Shumway and her daughter are African American. Gender and class biases are addressed with intelligence, and prejudices are confronted and cast aside.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A 1950s small town has been invaded by the Skreeps, a vicious alien race that sees planets as disposable. The Skreeps are bent on making Earth their new home, but first they must find "The Special Item," which turns out to be an invention by Bud Creedle that makes space travel quicker and less dangerous. It's up to the eccentric inventor and his nephew Jack -- along with unwilling visitors, the stuffy Dr. Shumway and her inquisitive daughter Isadora -- to unite against the Skreeps and save Earth from becoming just another slave planet in the Skreepish empire. Along the way in this adventure through space and time, the heroes find help in unexpected places, along with some hindrance from their long-time human antagonists, Officer Webb and his son Grady.
Is it any good?
The Doom Machine is a fun adventure with plenty of eccentric characters, both human and alien. Though often funny, it's a complex story with many layers and a huge cast of supporting characters to go with the richly drawn main characters. Young girls will enjoy seeing many strong, smart females as important characters. Some kids might find it a bit hard to follow, but sci-fi fans will find it an entertaining, worthwhile read. Mark Teague's illustrations are beautiful and they add an element of depth and reality to the otherworldly characters and terrains.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about prejudice. Both the Creedles and the Shumways judged each other based on gender and class. What did they learn once they came to know each other? Have you ever made a judgment about people based on appearances?
Families can also talk about rebellion. Why were so many Skreeps ready to rise up against the queen? On the other hand, why were so many willing to go along with the illusions set up by the Skreeps in power?
The Skreeps set up illusions wherever they could in order to pretend everything was fine and that their planet was lovely and peaceful. Why didn't they just work to make their planet a better place instead of trashing it beyond repair?
For kids who love aliens and sci-fi
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.