The Off-Worlders, by Paul Collins

Doyle is excited when he sees what looks like a spacecraft landing in the valley. He races out of the house with his dog Mastiff, ready to investigate. Little does he expect to meet and make friends with an alien who can talk to him using telepathy, and is here to save the world.

Together Doyle and his new friend, Bigel, must convince the residents of Diamond Valley and its enemy neighbours in the dome, to work together to defeat an invading force.

Part of a classroom educational series, The Off-Worlders is surprising in its hard-hitting plot. This is no simple boy-meets-alien-visitor story. Instead it looks at a futuristic Earth where society is divided into the haves and have-nots, with big domes housing populations hiding from the after-effects of nuclear war, and preying on those who live outside of the dome. The arrival of the alien Bigel proves to be the catalyst for the breaking down of the divisions, at least in Doyle’s part of the world, but not before some life and death escapades and serious battles.

Collins tells a story which is high on action and interest, yet with language which is accessible to readers aged 10 to 12. In essence, he manages to make the text realtively easy to read, whilst keeping the plot at a level which does not patronise pre-teen readers.

Part of the Breakers series from Macmillan Education, The Off-Worlders will appeal to young science fiction fans.

The Off-Worlders, by Paul Collins
Macmillan Education, 2004