This book created a marmite moment, meaning it was either loved or hated. If you are not a fan of science fiction or in this case, science fantasy, then ‘Calling Major Tom’ would not be for you. The plot revolved around the impossible story of Tom Major embarking on a one way voyage to Mars followed by his ludicrous communications and subsequent relationship with the dysfunctional Ormerod family, on earth. In the course of the book we learn a lot about Tom’s sad early years and his reasons for wanting to opt out of life on this planet.
All of us found the beginning very confusing and at that point several readers gave up. However, those who persevered and enjoyed the story found it quirky, sad, humorous and very different. Although, essentially a fantasy, the tale touched on important topics such as death, divorce, dementia, racism, bullying, scammers and getting on with people. Those who were not so impressed found it difficult to relate to the stereotypical characters and, at times, farcical plot.
This book would make a good read for teenagers and those who enjoy flights of fantasy. There were some genuine funny moments but probably not the ‘laugh out loud, feel good comedy’ that on line reviews suggest. It certainly made for an interesting and lively meeting which goes to prove that reading outside your comfort zone can be a very worthwhile exercise.