Uma and the Answer to Absolutely Everything
Uma Gnudersonn isn’t particularly heroic or unusual – she’s just a normal girl who loves adding words to her own personal dictionary and trying to avoid Lexie Ramblin, the school bully. When Uma and her friend Alan Alan Carrington are charged at by a tipsy alpaca, a woman in a speeding car crashes into it – only to leave a mysterious bejewelled headphone lying in the road.
When Uma puts the headphone in her ear, she discovers that it talks – and, also, seems to know everything, from Uma’s not very secure passwords to the fact that her mum died last year and since then, her dad has stopped speaking altogether. Athena – the earpiece - is a revolutionary AI prototype which its inventor Stella Daw, the scary woman from the speeding car, will do anything to get back. Yet Athena is also an earpiece that enables Uma to know absolutely everything – and it seems that it can help Uma with a lot of her problems…
Sam Copeland’s new story combines hilarious writing (there are some very satisfying alpaca poo moments, and Uma’s best friend Alan Alan Carrington is a brilliant comic character) and a saving the town story with a sensitive acknowledgement of bereavement and its aftermath. Yes, there’s an evil corporation trying to take over Tylney-on-Sea, but it’s really the emotional journey that Uma and her dad take after the loss of her mum that is the backbone of this excellent story, which acknowledges that (with the help of technology) children today may find it much easier to find the answer to absolutely everything than they ever have – but there are some questions which are still very difficult to answer.