Review: Cake in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Recommendations, Review
Image from Goodreads

Title: Cakes in Space
Author: Philip Reeve, Sarah McIntyre
Publisher: OUP
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5
Synopsis from Goodreads
Astra’s family are all snoring in their sleeping pods, but Astra is WIDE AWAKE. With her friend, Pilbeam, she goes off exploring and soon finds out the ship is in deep trouble. It’s been knocked off course and invaded by a gang of Poglites, an alien salvage crew searching for spoonage.
But even the Poglites need Astra’s help when they discover something far more sinister lurking in the canteen. Sure, they’re cakes; but no one would describe them as sweet.
Cakes in Space, is as the title suggests, about an encounter between the main character, Astra, and a group of highly developed cakes. She and her family had been placed into a cryogenic sleep, and we’re set on a nearly two hundred year journey to the far away, newly discovered planet of Nova Mundi, an inhabitable paradise similar to our Earth. In this futuristic tale, robots are in abundance, aiding the human population with a multitude of often challenging tasks. One question that still remained for man to discover, was the ever present possibility of extraterrestrial life.
The main character in the book is a young girl called Astra, just one of the many passengers contained in Hibernation Section C on the transport spaceship en route to Nova Mundi. Ultimately, it is her fault for the whole incident involving the creation of the monstrous cakes, and sending the ship completely off course, and even causing the meeting with the Poglite alien race, and their subject of worship, Broknar. It started when Astra first boarded the ship after departing from Earth in a nimble shuttle. She felt peckish before entering the cryogenic sleep, being directed to the Nom o Tron 9000 Food Synthesizer by her Pilbeam bot. Upon meeting and conversing with said robot, she decides to ask for a cake, using certain descriptive words to specify the quality and type of cake. The Nom o Tron happens to take these descriptions quite literally, and begins attempting to create such a complex cake. The effect of the Nom o Tron taking up so much of the ship’s energy and artificial intelligence, only leads to problems.
My favourite parts of the book were when Astra,meets and befriends various alien beings, and gets to know their qualities, and in certain cases, powers. Throughout thestory, she gains more intelligence on these creatures, and it is only through their invaluable assistance that she is able to put her ship back on track.
My personal favourite character is one particular alien named only as Nameless Horror. I was intrigued by his backstory, in which he was found simply drifting through space, a shapeless, body morphing thing. His abilities in both the art of stealth, and being able to change shape indefinitely were usurped by the Poglites in their search for loot. His background as well as his innocent, heroic personality when helping Astra, makes him an easily likeable character, and I would always wish for him to prevail in any battle.
If I were to say I dislike anything about the book, it would be that it is essentially quite simple, as it is directed to a younger audience. This made certain aspects and sections of the book quite easily predictable, as the layout could be plainly obvious, despite the futuristic, fantasy theme if the story itself. It would be possible however, to make a more advanced edition of this book, as it could be adapted into a teenage horror, in which the main character finds themselves trapped inside an abandoned spaceship, being ruthlessly hunted down by alien creatures of fantastical nature.
I would consider reading a book by these authors again, as I believe they have the talent to generate a more mature story, that would be appealing from my point of view. I enjoyed the grasp of a future world, influenced heavily by robotics, and space travel.
I would recommend this book to those who are still perhaps new to reading, still trying to grasp the concept before moving on to literature of a higher complexity. I believe those of ages between 7 to possibly 11 would find most enjoyment from reading this story, and would learn the most from it.
There is no explicit language or mature themes included in this book, due to the fact that I believe it is aimed at younger children.
I would give this book 3 out of 5 points, but would be inclined to increase this score if it was more to my taste, or if I were a bit younger.

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