Monday 9 May 2022

Uma and the Answer to Absolutely Everything - Sam Copeland

(A complete change of pace and style from the previous review.)


"Uma Gnudersonn has a head full of questions - then she finds a genius artificial intelligence called Athena who knows everything. Suddenly Uma has the answer to any question she can imagine but Athena's sinister inventor wants her back and Athena will find out that all questions have answers."

This is narrated in the first person by the character of Uma Gnudersonn - she's an engaging narrator - occasionally a little bit snarky, especially about her best friend Alan Alan (yes his first name and middle name are the same) - but you are pulled into her story and see the world through her eyes. She has a great voice - 

" English teacher told me that tragedy is very useful in a story,'to get empathy from the reader'. Well, I hope you're full of empathy."

Before I go any further I have to say - there are FOOTNOTES! - which I love. Just little comments on what is happening in the story. Like Easter Eggs for books. There are a lot of alpacas in the book - also awesome - and my favourite footnote is on page 7 - 

"...if you don't like alpacas, then this book probably isn't for you. And if you don't like alpacas, you should probably take a long, hard look at yourself because alpacas are awesome." 

There is even an alpaca fact file at the end!

Back to the review.

We find out early on in the story that Uma's mother has died and that her dad is still grieving. Uma desperately wants to help her dad but doesn't know how. This is an ongoing thread throughout the story. The main story is her finding Athena and discovering that Minerva Industries (who created Athena) have nefarious intentions. So Uma has to save her village, stop Minerva Industries and try and reach her dad in his grief. It's a tall order but with help from Athena, Alan Alan and a pack of alpacas, Uma is going to try.

There is a scene towards the end of the book where we find out more details of what happened to Uma's mother and it did make me cry.

There is some absolutely brilliant description - 

"She had the face of a woman who would eat pizza with a knife and fork." 

And somehow you know exactly what she means.

It is a fantastical story - so if you prefer realism this probably isn't for you. The bad guys are very bad, there's a mineral called bogeymite, there are drunk (and sometimes talking alpacas), though they only ever talk in alpaca. But it's a rollicking read that goes along with it's heart front and centre. It does deal with grief and loss but I think in a sensitive way that feels organic to the story.

(I received a free copy of this book to review)

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