'The Boy Who Fell from the Sky' by Benjamin Dean is a unique, sci-fi adventure about inclusion and friendship, and what it means to stick up for the 'other', 'the alien'. It's pacy, funny, heartwarming and poses questions about the lengths people go to in order to retain status and honour. There's a saying that 'pride comes before the fall'; in this story there's no need for pride when the truth is revealed when a demon falls...
Twelve-year-old Zed has always been fascinated by the Demons that fall from the sky. His whole life his dad has worked as a Hunter, tasked with eliminating Demons once and for all, and Zed hopes to one day follow in his footsteps. But then one night Spark appears and disrupts everything Zed thought he knew. Because this Demon is nothing like the myths – he’s a frightened boy, no older than Zed, who wants to go back home.
Can Zed stand up for what’s right, even if it means going against his own family?
Sci-fi has often been overlooked as a genre for children, so I am always pleased to read one when they're published. Benjamin Dean has written a really compelling sci-fi story with a unique concept that has fantasy undertones too. Having Demons fall from the sky offers a mystical, initially sinister premise. But the story here is brilliant for its intriguing revelations of the truth of the Demons - that they're afraid and not a threat, and that the whole world is conditioned to believe otherwise. This really taps into problems our world faces today (prejudice towards difference, fears about refugees, the damage the media can do), but Benjamin Dean doesn't preach; instead, we learn what it means to be truly inclusive through the wonderful friendship that develops between Zed and the boy Demon Spark. I loved their funny, tender interactions and the kindness that they show one another. This is contrasted powerfully with Zed's difficult relationship with his father, who cares solely for attaining his status as the platinum-medal wearing No.1 hunter of Demons. Zed's bravery is shown not in facing a Demon, but facing up to his domineering father. I found this to be the most powerful aspect of the story - that sometimes we all must muster the courage to face our demons much closer to home, even if the world, and its toxic media, are against you.
'The Boy Who Fell from the Sky' would be excellent for Key Stage 2 to Spark debate and to question how we can all be better neighbours to one another, even if we make friends with others who may be perceived in all the wrong ways by the eyes of the world.
Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending a copy for me to review.