Boom! by Mark Haddon

September 14, 2011

Plot summary (from the publisher): An explosive, highly charged, and hilarious middle-grade adventure from Mark Haddon, acclaimed author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

From the moment that Jim and his best friend, Charlie, bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there’s an adventure on its way.

But what does “spudvetch” actually mean, and why do Mr. Kidd’s eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they’re spies. Perhaps they are aliens. Whatever it is, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out.

There really is an adventure on its way. A nuclear-powered, one-hundred-ton adventure with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end one way . . . with a BOOM!

Warning: Spoilers below!


  • I thought this book started out extremely well. It was exciting when Jim and Charlie bugged the teacher’s lounge, and the prospect of Kidd and Pearce being spies or something was quite intriguing.
  • Jimbo and Charlie were fairly believable as characters and as kids. I could certainly see pre-teen boys acting the way they did, especially the part about sneaking into a teacher’s house. That would have been the ultimate coup back in the day!
  • It was cool that Jimbo’s sister agreed to help him out. Once she got over her initial shock, she had no trouble stealing her boyfriend’s motorcycle to help Jimbo go look for Charlie. If they’d only had a motorcycle gps garmin unit, they could have found him much quicker!


  • As soon as the alien storyline took over in full force, my interest waned almost down to nothing. I would much rather have preferred that Kidd and Pearce be spies than have them be aliens with blue lights coming out of their fingers and tails tucked up under their knickers.
  • I understand that the plot was supposed to be a spoof to some degree, but I didn’t feel it worked very well. Some parts were indeed funny, but a lot of the “humor” fell flat, especially after the alien aspect took over.


Even though I knew going in that Boom! by Mark Haddon was a kids story, I was willing to give it a chance. Unfortunately, the sci-fi theme just didn’t grab me the way it was intended to, so I ened up not liking this very much. I give it 3 stars out of 5 (I bumped it from 2 stars to 3 because I’m not part of the target demographic).

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