Handy Andy Saves the World by EJ Altbacker

four stars

andyLately Andy the handyman has been struggling at work, often making things worse while attempting to improve them, and the tiny company he inherited from his father is threatened by a larger company. One evening, he sees a spaceship crash. The ship is full of adorable aliens, called Oorts, and one creepy squid-like creature. He tries to go to the police, but they convince him that he must be hallucinating. Then he finds his son talking to one of the aliens. The alien tells Andy that he must repair their spaceship because they don’t do “menial labor”, which is considered disgraceful to them. After repairing the ship, Andy takes an Oort tool to work and uses it make everything better than it was before. Andy thinks that he is done with aliens and that things are looking up until he is visited by Ron, the squid-like alien. Ron reveals that the Oorts are on a “peace mission”, but that their idea of a peace mission is to destroy any planet with sentient life in order avoid future conflict. The Oorts abduct Andy and his family. Andy will be their full-time handyman, Andy’s wife will be their leader’s “dancing queen”, and the children will be in their museum of freaks. Once the ship, Andy tries to use the escape pods to rescue his family, but learns that they will only launch if the ship is damaged beyond repair. Once Andy successfully damages the ship, the Oorts escape in the pods and Andy must repair the ship with his limited tools. After he is successful, they steer back to earth. A year later, Andy has set up a new workshop where he repairs spaceships from around the galaxy. Meanwhile, the Oorts are still drifting in their escape pod, unwilling to do the menial labor required to fix it. They feel warmer and then notice that they are heading directly for the sun.

The human characters in the book are fairly stereotypical. For instance, Andy is a standard hard-working, but clumsy dad and his daughter is a typical embarrassed-by-her-parents teenage girl. However, the aliens’ personalities more than make up for this. Altbacker does an excellent job of creating a distinctive and convincing alien culture, which leads to an interesting cultural clash and humorous miscommunications between the humans and aliens. Altbacker is a seasoned screenwriter, which is apparent from the book’s hilarious dialogue and word-play. Handy Andy Saves the World makes for an enjoyable read, especially for YA readers.

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