Michael Morgan is no ordinary boy. His life is an experiment, the first boy to be raised in space. Two hundred and fifty miles above the planet’s surface, on the space station Daedalus, Michael dreams about visiting earth for the first time. On the earth below, Peter Davies dreams about going into space.
When the two meet, adventure is not far behind, as well as plenty of danger. Experiencing earth and space for the first time, the two boys discover something that will change both of their lives.
When I first picked up this book I thought it was actually a children's book, but it's not, it's definitely a young adult, science fiction adventure. I thought the theme of the book had an interesting premise, so was keen to give it a read. A young man, sixteen-year-old Michael Morgan was born on the space station, orbiting earth, and had spent his entire life, to that point on the station - he had never been to Earth. Michael's parents were both long gone when he was a baby. His mother had been killed in a re-entry accident and his father, distraught at the loss of his wife, had effectively abandoned young Michael on the Space Station. Michael had literally become a ward of the Government and as such had become a glorified experiment to the doctors and scientist at NASA. Perhaps because Michael had never known anything different, he was relatively indifferent about his structured, managed and ordered life aboard the space station. All that was about to change, though, with a chance email from a young Welsh boy and the opportunity for Michael to visit earth for the first time. In Exchange won't set the world on fire with intellectual debate, but it is a fun adventure, that is very age-appropriate and I have no doubt it would be enjoyed by anyone who has ever dreamed of soaring above the earth at thousands of miles per hour. Some of the best interactions in the story come between Michael and his new friend from Earth Peter Davies. I enjoyed their comparisons of their different lives and how, despite their differences, they would discover much they had in common. I'm not sure that Y/A novels actually need a moral, but if there was one in this book, it would be that the grass in not always greener on the other side of the fence. This was an easy to read, well-written and enjoyable. For a first novel, which I think it probably is, Caddy did an excellent job. One can tell from the title that he has other adventures in mind for young Michael Morgan and I am sure they will be just as enjoyable. An excellent start Mr Caddy and I'm more than happy to award four well-earned stars to In Exchange.
It would seem that space is having something of a renaissance. First we had Chris Hadfield shooting a music video in orbit, then we watched Tim Peake present a BRIT Award to Adele live from the ISS. Space is cool again. But, much more importantly, NASA and other space programs have finally embraced the concept of space belonging to everyone. Space exploration is no longer a race between warring nations, but a joint, global venture to discover, learn and tweet cool pictures.
So, no better time for Steven M. Caddy to release his debut novel, In Exchange. The novel follows Michael Morgan, the first ever human raised in space, as he comes down to Earth to meet Peter Davies. The two boys are part of an experiment, an exchange. Peter will show Michael what it’s like to live on Earth, and, after some gruelling training, Michael will lead Peter back to the space station Daedalus.
Michael and Peter are likeable leads and watching their friendship grow is a real pleasure. Especially during a trip full of camping-related capers anyone who embarked on such adventures in their youth will immediately recognise. The novel is also beautifully researched. You will learn so much about space (for example, sleeping in orbit is troublesome because of phosphenes; spontaneous flashes of light visually perceived by astronauts), but the facts are never overwhelming. Technical detail never takes precedence over story and this is good to see.
On top of that the novel dishes out plenty of exciting catastrophes and the ending comes with a sizeable twist. Whether you’re on board with the second Space Age, or just looking for a good adventure story, In Exchange is the book for you.