I bought this book in a charity shop for about fifty cents. I was interested to learn how Tom’s amazing machine worked and what it could do. It’s fascinating reading books about what people thought and dreamed about technology in the 1980s and 90s. I remember I read one book which was written in the 80s about a girl whose mum worked as a cashier in the supermarket. In those days, there were no scanners at the register and cashiers had to input the barcode or price into the register themselves.
The girl’s mother didn’t like it because she thought that would be the end to the conversations with customers and she had memorised all the prices so that skill would die as well. She also thought that one day, they wouldn’t need cashiers at all and there would be self serve machines. In fact, she’s right some supermarkets do have self service registers today but there are still people around.
Okay... well enough of that tangent and back to the review at hand, Tom’s Amazing Machine takes a trip.
The book is part of a trilogy, I don’t know where it fits in with the other books but there’s also the Tom’s Amazing Machine (which is probably the first one) and Tom’s Amazing Machine Zaps Back.
Tom is about ten or eleven and he has a laptop that has been brought to life via an alien spore that somehow wound up in the machine. The laptop’s name is Zenda, she’s a witty laptop who can imitate voices, she’s extremely knowledgeable and has a sense of humour. Just imagine how heavy that laptop would be, Tom takes the laptop everywhere with him.
The book starts off with Tom and his classmates trying to raise money to go on a day trip to France and there are some side stories about Tom’s sister Marion having trouble with her boyfriend, his dad’s job and an aunt who comes to stay with him. During Tom’s adventures, Zenda helps him out by giving him ideas or doing her voice imitations of people.
What I didn’t like about the novel was the dialogue. I didn’t believe that children would talk the way did, I thought it was unnatural and that they sounded like how an older person would think children would talk. It was only like that in some parts. I do know that people did talk differently in the past so maybe it was that.
I thought the story progressed too quickly, the kids go to France, they have a little adventure there and go home. The trip to France only takes one day, I wish they got up to more and it was a longer trip. The adults in the novel seemed to be a little ridiculous and naive which was a bit jarring at times. The kids also solve the other side adventures quite quickly in the end and I would have loved to read more detail about it.
I would read the other Tom’s Amazing Machines novels if I ever find them. It would be interesting to know more about Zenda.