The Angel Factory

Overview

Have you ever imagined that you might be living in a dream reality? That your parents, your sister, your best friend, even your dog isn't who you think they are? Ever felt that while your friends gripe about their dysfunctional families and their grades, you can't really complain? Have you ever thought your life is just a little too good to be true?
If your answer is yes, than you can imagine how Thomas Wisdom feels. Once he starts digging for clues about his family's history ...

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Overview

Have you ever imagined that you might be living in a dream reality? That your parents, your sister, your best friend, even your dog isn't who you think they are? Ever felt that while your friends gripe about their dysfunctional families and their grades, you can't really complain? Have you ever thought your life is just a little too good to be true?
If your answer is yes, than you can imagine how Thomas Wisdom feels. Once he starts digging for clues about his family's history and identity, he begins to uncover a truth and a responsibility that are almost too fantastic and tragic for one boy to bear....

Spurred on by his best friend, twelve-year-old Thomas uncovers two major family secrets: that he was adopted, and that his perfect-seeming family is part of an other-worldly organization.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Booklist A page turner.

The Bulletin of the Center Children's Books A thriller that moves at the speed of a runaway train.

Publishers Weekly
A 12-year-old breaks into a secret computer file and discovers that his whole life is a lie; he is being groomed to cooperate with angels in a Project to save humankind. In a starred review, PW called this a "riveting futuristic tale. The author masterfully constructs an intriguing world of remarkable possibilities and chilling consequences that bears an eerie resemblance to the here and now." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
London Times Educational Supplement

This is a riveting fantasy adventure with a solid basis in relationships.

The Sunday Times

A story driven by its twists and turns of plot, with characterization that is often sharp, and a strong sense of how sinister niceness can be.
(London)

Literary Review

A gripping novel, but it will also encourage younger readers to think about philosophical and political issues, such as free will and the notion of good and evil.

School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Twelve-year-old Thomas Wisdom's seemingly perfect life with his peaceful British family begins to fall apart after he learns that he was adopted and that his parents and sister are really angels sent to Earth to prevent humanity from destroying itself. Their plan is to recruit adopted children and persuade them to cooperate with the Project by using brainwashing, threats, and even violence. When he discovers that even the President of the United States is an angel, Thomas doesn't know whom to trust. Then he is forced to make a decision-whether or not to go along with the Project. He rejects it in favor of free choice and his right to self-determination but pays the price by losing his best and only friend. He realizes that humankind, with all its randomness and unpredictability, is preferable to the life that the angels advocate. None of the characters, with the exception of Gip, Thomas's best friend, or their math teacher, is particularly interesting or likable. After Thomas rejects the Project, the angels in charge decide to abandon it without a fight. This doesn't ring true after what has come before and leaves the ending feeling flat and anticlimactic. The concept of freedom of choice that the book presents is interesting but not new, and this novel doesn't add much originality to the subject. Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton, 1993) is a more compelling and better-written book.-Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Driven by plot and theme, this British import features a 12-year-old boy who discovers that angels right here on Earth are asking for his help in saving humanity from itself. Thomas Wisdom may be preppy and blonde, but he isn't bland in the way his parents and sister seem to be, effortlessly gliding through their lives. His discovery that they are angels and he has been adopted propels Thomas into a search for his own origins. At the crux is the question of whether he will choose to remain human or give up free choice and join the angels, thereby agreeing to do whatever he is assigned. Never very convincing realistically, the presence of the US president chatting with Thomas verges on the ludicrous. Nevertheless, the earnest tone and the emotional outpouring of Thomas's thought processes make clear that comedy was not intended. The way in which Blacker sets readers up with stereotypical assumptions about angels being blond and blank of character prior to yanking that away without any preparation in the story feels manipulative. It's almost as though having given the clues to reinforce those assumptions he wants to blame readers for having made them. None of this is religious, as the angels are more like aliens than adherents to any God-given morality. It's the plot twists and the possibilities of angel power that provide the suspense. What food there is here for discussion-free will, adoption, good and evil-is like most junk food: superficially appealing and not terribly satisfying. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689864131
  • Publisher: Aladdin
  • Publication date: 3/15/2012
  • Edition description: First Aladdin Paperback Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 680,194
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Terence Blacker has written many novels, including Kill Your Darlings, for adults, and Homebird, a teen novel. When he is not writing, he likes to play the guitar, write songs, and play football. He lives and works in an old farmhouse in the countryside of Suffolk, England.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 3: Spooky

As we made our way to the house, I tried to explain to Gip that I wasn't exactly being serious. I had been in a bad mood all day because, although I knew my geography project would get an A, I felt the mark was not mine but my dad's. I said that it had all been a joke but, in Gip's upside-down world, anything serious is really a joke in disguise while what most people would see as a joke, he takes with deadly seriousness.

I realized that I had made a big mistake confiding in him about my parents. Then I made an even bigger one. I let Gip into my house.

As soon as we entered the hall, he asked to see my dad's computer. Still trying to play along with his little game, I showed him upstairs.

Moments later, he stood in the center of my father's small, super-tidy office, looking absurdly out of place, like some giant bit of litter that had been blown in from the street.

"My parents are kind of into neatness," I explained.

He took in the scene, the rows of folders on shelves, the filing-cabinet, the immaculately tidy desk. "It's plain unnatural," he muttered, sitting down in front of the computer. "It's spooky."

"Not everyone has to live like you," I said, suddenly resenting the way Gip mocked anyone whose life was not like his.

He switched on the computer. "Code-word," he said quietly. "We need a code-word to get in."

He tapped in my name, waited a few seconds then muttered, "Nope."

"Dougal?"

"Eh?"

"It's the name of my terrier."

Gip shook his head as he typed in the letters. "Your life, man," he muttered.

Nothing.

As if I weren't there, Gip opened the top drawer of my father's desk and took out an addressbook. He opened it at the first page. "What's the Seraph Organization?" he asked.

"Something to do with my parents' work. They're the food company that employs them."

Gip's fingers flew over the keys.

Nothing.

He returned to the address book, studying one page after another.

I glanced at my watch. "Gip, they'll be back soon. I'll be so dead if they find you here."

He ignored me. "Who are SO?" he asked suddenly.

"Search me."

"More to the point. Why does their telephone number have only five digits?" He tapped the numbers into the computer. Suddenly the screen came alive.

"Welcome," said a friendly cybernetic voice.

"Welcome to you," said Gip.

We were in.

Gip is one of those people who never feels more at home than when he's in front of a computer. Within seconds, he had called up my father's files. They read:

HOME BILLS SERAPH TAX

"Gip, this is wrong," I said. "There's nothing here."

He opened "SERAPH."

It was full of letters from my dad about schedules, visits, advertising, deadlines -- as dull and innocent as any business file could be.

Before I could stop him, he opened "HOME." It was stuff about insurance and rates.

"So much for the CIA theory," I said.

But Gip had double-clicked on "TAX." The screen suddenly filled with numbers -- five pages of batched numbers, like a telephone directory without the names.

"Good thinking, guy," he muttered. "Nothing could look more boring and innocent than the old tax file. But you didn't fool old Gip." He closed the file. "OK," he said. "We print these out and then we leave."

"It's just some kind of tax thing," I said and I realized how absurd it all sounded. The truth was that, if my dad really did have some kind of secret life, I was suddenly not sure that I wanted to know about it.

"Knowledge is power," said Gip, pushing the "Print" key. "Now," he said, as the printer whined into life. "Where's this lavatory of yours?"

I told him and waited by the printer until it had finished spewing out pages full of numbers. When I had switched off the computer, I made my way downstairs to my room.

There are times when I forget just how weird my friend Gip is. After about five minutes, it occurred to me that he was spending more time than was entirely usual in my lavatory. I knocked on the door and asked if he was all right.

He said something but his voice sounded odd and echoey so that I couldn't catch the words. Then I noticed the door was not fully shut. I pushed it and nervously peered in.

Gip was on his knees in front of the lavatory. He looked like a headless man.

"What you doing, Gip?" I didn't know whether to leave him or to help.

His voice echoed weirdly from the depths of the lavatory bowl. "Uuggghh."

"Are you feeling sick?"

"I'm uunngghh," he said impatiently. Slowly, he emerged from the bowl. He stood up and shook his head. At the same time, both of us noticed that the ends of his hair were wet. Gip squeezed a few strands and wiped the palms of his hands down the sides of his jeans.

"Spies use lavatories to conceal information. I thought maybe there was some kind of secret hiding-place. That was why your parents are always slipping off to the bog -- they're filing a report." He lifted the lid off the cistern.

"I was joking," I said desperately. "They were just going to the toilet like anyone else. Let's -- "

"Yes." It was a low groan of triumph. Slowly he extricated his hand. He was holding a small, flat, black rubber plug.

"Well done, Gip," I said. "You just mashed up our plumbing."

"At the back of the cistern, there's a small metal plate." He put his hand, still wet, on my shoulder and, with the other, pointed downwards into the water. There was, it was true, an oddly colored plaque behind the ball cock.

"It's called a bolt, Gip," I said. "It's what plumbers use."

"Yeah, right. And they use copper and cover it up with rubber. I don't think so." He opened the window that was just above the lavatory and, standing on the bowl, peered downwards.

When he came back into the room, he was smiling. "Transmitter," he said. "The bolt has a connection outside."

He returned the plug to where he had found it and put the lid back. This time he dried his hands by running them through his hair.

"You were right," he said. "Your parents are CIA. They're communicating to headquarters using the old lavatory trick. I was right. There's definitely something spooky going on here."

I sighed. At that moment, it seemed pointless to remind him that I had never ever claimed that my mum or dad were in the CIA, that all I had said, casually, was that I felt a bit out of place in my perfect family. It had been a joke and it had backfired and I wanted Gip to leave my house before he got any other crazy ideas about my family.

"They'll be back soon," I said. "You'd better go."

He picked up the sheaf of papers we had printed from my father's computer and waved them significantly in front of my face. "With the evidence, right?"

"Yeah, of course. With the evidence."

He glanced at me and winked -- I may not be good at hiding my thoughts but luckily neither is Gip too good at reading them.

He limped his way to the front door. "It's good you brought ole Gippy in on this," he said. "We'll crack it together, right?"

"Sure," I said, eager to get shot of him. I glanced up and down the road. The coast was still clear but, at any moment now, my mum and dad would be rounding the corner from the station.

"All you got to do is check the precise times when your folks go to the john," he was saying. "Then, casual-like, try to listen outside the door, catch any noises in there that are kind of unusual, and leave the rest to me," he said.

"Right. I'll remember to do that."

I watched as he walked off with that swift scuttle, his right leg jerking outwards as if he were kicking out at some invisible thing with every stride. Then, suddenly I saw them. Walking towards him were Mum, Dad and, between them, my sister Amy with Dougal scuttling along ahead of them.

Briefly, I had this creepy sense that I was looking at two types of human -- walking away from me, the frail, the strange, the sick and, walking towards me, the strong, the healthy, the normal.

My family turned into the short path leading to our front door. Dougal jumped up to greet me.

"Hi, Thomas," said my father. "What are you doing here?"

"I thought somebody rang the bell. Then I saw you."

My mum kissed me. "Amy's here to discuss the holiday," she said.

My sister kissed me too. "Hi, bruv," she said.

"Hi," I said.

I was glad that they were home. I glanced up the road to see Gip turning the bend, and began to relax.

We went inside for tea.

Copyright © 2001 by Terence Blacker

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First Chapter

Chapter 3: Spooky

As we made our way to the house, I tried to explain to Gip that I wasn't exactly being serious. I had been in a bad mood all day because, although I knew my geography project would get an A, I felt the mark was not mine but my dad's. I said that it had all been a joke but, in Gip's upside-down world, anything serious is really a joke in disguise while what most people would see as a joke, he takes with deadly seriousness.

I realized that I had made a big mistake confiding in him about my parents. Then I made an even bigger one. I let Gip into my house.

As soon as we entered the hall, he asked to see my dad's computer. Still trying to play along with his little game, I showed him upstairs.

Moments later, he stood in the center of my father's small, super-tidy office, looking absurdly out of place, like some giant bit of litter that had been blown in from the street.

"My parents are kind of into neatness," I explained.

He took in the scene, the rows of folders on shelves, the filing-cabinet, the immaculately tidy desk. "It's plain unnatural," he muttered, sitting down in front of the computer. "It's spooky."

"Not everyone has to live like you," I said, suddenly resenting the way Gip mocked anyone whose life was not like his.

He switched on the computer. "Code-word," he said quietly. "We need a code-word to get in."

He tapped in my name, waited a few seconds then muttered, "Nope."

"Dougal?"

"Eh?"

"It's the name of my terrier."

Gip shook his head as he typed in the letters. "Your life, man," he muttered.

Nothing.

As if I weren't there, Gip opened the top drawer of my father's desk and took out an address book. He opened it at the first page. "What's the Seraph Organization?" he asked.

"Something to do with my parents' work. They're the food company that employs them."

Gip's fingers flew over the keys.

Nothing.

He returned to the address book, studying one page after another.

I glanced at my watch. "Gip, they'll be back soon. I'll be so dead if they find you here."

He ignored me. "Who are SO?" he asked suddenly.

"Search me."

"More to the point. Why does their telephone number have only five digits?" He tapped the numbers into the computer. Suddenly the screen came alive.

"Welcome," said a friendly cybernetic voice.

"Welcome to you," said Gip.

We were in.

Gip is one of those people who never feels more at home than when he's in front of a computer. Within seconds, he had called up my father's files. They read:

HOME

BILLS

SERAPH

TAX

"Gip, this is wrong," I said. "There's nothing here."

He opened "SERAPH."

It was full of letters from my dad about schedules, visits, advertising, deadlines -- as dull and innocent as any business file could be.

Before I could stop him, he opened "HOME." It was stuff about insurance and rates.

"So much for the CIA theory," I said.

But Gip had double-clicked on "TAX." The screen suddenly filled with numbers -- five pages of batched numbers, like a telephone directory without the names.

"Good thinking, guy," he muttered. "Nothing could look more boring and innocent than the old tax file. But you didn't fool old Gip." He closed the file. "OK," he said. "We print these out and then we leave."

"It's just some kind of tax thing," I said and I realized how absurd it all sounded. The truth was that, if my dad really did have some kind of secret life, I was suddenly not sure that I wanted to know about it.

"Knowledge is power," said Gip, pushing the "Print" key. "Now," he said, as the printer whined into life. "Where's this lavatory of yours?"

I told him and waited by the printer until it had finished spewing out pages full of numbers. When I had switched off the computer, I made my way downstairs to my room.

There are times when I forget just how weird my friend Gip is. After about five minutes, it occurred to me that he was spending more time than was entirely usual in my lavatory. I knocked on the door and asked if he was all right.

He said something but his voice sounded odd and echoey so that I couldn't catch the words. Then I noticed the door was not fully shut. I pushed it and nervously peered in.

Gip was on his knees in front of the lavatory. He looked like a headless man.

"What you doing, Gip?" I didn't know whether to leave him or to help.

His voice echoed weirdly from the depths of the lavatory bowl. "Uuggghh."

"Are you feeling sick?"

"I'm uunngghh," he said impatiently. Slowly, he emerged from the bowl. He stood up and shook his head. At the same time, both of us noticed that the ends of his hair were wet. Gip squeezed a few strands and wiped the palms of his hands down the sides of his jeans.

"Spies use lavatories to conceal information. I thought maybe there was some kind of secret hiding-place. That was why your parents are always slipping off to the bog -- they're filing a report." He lifted the lid off the cistern.

"I was joking," I said desperately. "They were just going to the toilet like anyone else. Let's -- "

"Yes." It was a low groan of triumph. Slowly he extricated his hand. He was holding a small, flat, black rubber plug.

"Well done, Gip," I said. "You just mashed up our plumbing."

"At the back of the cistern, there's a small metal plate." He put his hand, still wet, on my shoulder and, with the other, pointed downwards into the water. There was, it was true, an oddly colored plaque behind the ball cock.

"It's called a bolt, Gip," I said. "It's what plumbers use."

"Yeah, right. And they use copper and cover it up with rubber. I don't think so." He opened the window that was just above the lavatory and, standing on the bowl, peered downwards.

When he came back into the room, he was smiling. "Transmitter," he said. "The bolt has a connection outside."

He returned the plug to where he had found it and put the lid back. This time he dried his hands by running them through his hair.

"You were right," he said. "Your parents are CIA. They're communicating to headquarters using the old lavatory trick. I was right. There's definitely something spooky going on here."

I sighed. At that moment, it seemed pointless to remind him that I had never ever claimed that my mum or dad were in the CIA, that all I had said, casually, was that I felt a bit out of place in my perfect family. It had been a joke and it had backfired and I wanted Gip to leave my house before he got any other crazy ideas about my family.

"They'll be back soon," I said. "You'd better go."

He picked up the sheaf of papers we had printed from my father's computer and waved them significantly in front of my face. "With the evidence, right?"

"Yeah, of course. With the evidence."

He glanced at me and winked -- I may not be good at hiding my thoughts but luckily neither is Gip too good at reading them.

He limped his way to the front door. "It's good you brought ole Gippy in on this," he said. "We'll crack it together, right?"

"Sure," I said, eager to get shot of him. I glanced up and down the road. The coast was still clear but, at any moment now, my mum and dad would be rounding the corner from the station.

"All you got to do is check the precise times when your folks go to the john," he was saying. "Then, casual-like, try to listen outside the door, catch any noises in there that are kind of unusual, and leave the rest to me," he said.

"Right. I'll remember to do that."

I watched as he walked off with that swift scuttle, his right leg jerking outwards as if he were kicking out at some invisible thing with every stride. Then, suddenly I saw them. Walking towards him were Mum, Dad and, between them, my sister Amy with Dougal scuttling along ahead of them.

Briefly, I had this creepy sense that I was looking at two types of human -- walking away from me, the frail, the strange, the sick and, walking towards me, the strong, the healthy, the normal.

My family turned into the short path leading to our front door. Dougal jumped up to greet me.

"Hi, Thomas," said my father. "What are you doing here?"

"I thought somebody rang the bell. Then I saw you."

My mum kissed me. "Amy's here to discuss the holiday," she said.

My sister kissed me too. "Hi, bruv," she said.

"Hi," I said.

I was glad that they were home. I glanced up the road to see Gip turning the bend, and began to relax.

We went inside for tea.

Copyright © 2001 by Terence Blacker

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2005

    A page Turner

    This book is a thriller its is so good how humans kind always wins even against good it self any one would like this book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2004

    Great read, very true to todays world

    In this book, a 12 year old English boy feels that his life is perfect... too perfect. Then, he and his friend break into a file on his fathers computer that ends up changing his entire life. It's a very gripping story, and some the things said in it about how humans are destroying themselves are true as well. It's definately a recommended read. Do yourself a favor, shell out $5 and read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2002

    WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD

    The very concept of good and evil is at the heart of this somber novel, told through the eyes of English 12-year-old Thomas Wisdom. He seems to have it all: a loving family, true friends, and a bright future. But then he makes dark discoveries about secrets his parents have been keeping. When it becomes clear that they are not who they claim to be, Thomas and his outcast friend Gip wonder if they're spies of some kind? Alien beings? Angels? Through plot twists and turns, Thomas not only finds out that they are in fact all three, but also discovers that he is adopted and is part of a worldwide plan to alter the fate of mankind. Is he up to the task? Should he be? He wrestles with multiple moral dilemmas, and must weigh the value of friendship vs. family, birth family vs. adopted family, good vs. evil, and the basic tenets of right and wrong. He discovers that nothing is black and white, however, and the angels "goodness" is in fact laced with a sinister threat. Alone he is faced with choosing the correct path while burdened with the weight of all humanity on his shoulders.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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