How To Buy a Planet, by D A Holdsworth

Holdsworth's debut sci-fi novel took 20 years to write, and was finished last year, yet it's been praised for predicting the 2020 coronavirus pandemic...
ISBN: 979-8671128932, available on Amazon

December 21, 2020
A timely read

“It’s the Year 2024. Drowning in debt following the pandemic, and facing ruin, the leaders of the G7 have taken the only logical decision. They’ve sold the planet”.

What a timely read… Set in a post-pandemic world, the premise of the book is that the lovely leaders of Earth have decided to sell planet earth - to a bunch of aliens. With a strong start, I was hooked on this book. I loved the idea of living in a world with no pandemic, no economic issues, where everyone is happy and knows their lives will be debt-free.

With nods to the current situation of not being able to see anyone, going out freely to pubs, and traveling like normal, Holdsworth really captures the essence of looking to the future and wondering what our lives will be like - with a twist.

With an air of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Men in Black, this novel is part-comedy, part-sci-fi, and will appeal to those with a great imagination - much like the author. Holdsworth has come up with the most bizarre but intricate descriptions of the different alien life forms and the planets they inhabit.

It’s also a depressing view on what could happen if all of this were to come through. While reading the pages, I had no doubt in my mind that our world leaders would totally go with a plan like this if they could! And why not? Remove all your responsibility and pretend you’re doing the right thing by selling off the one thing that can fix all your problems, and then not care about the consequences.

Here’s a bit more to explain the story: “When Toby, a penniless student, finds out one morning on TV, he’s surprised to find the Earth’s new owners are staggeringly cute and bring the promise of a debt-free future. He’s just getting ready to celebrate along with the rest of the world, when a chance encounter with a mysterious professor reveals the truth. And there’s a glitch: the Earth is about to be destroyed.

As storytelling goes, the first third of the book is totally mesmerising. As an avid reader of fiction, but not of fantasy or sci-fi, I really enjoyed the nice-but-odd main characters Toby, Paranoid Dave, Charlie, the Professor and Mrs B. Holdsworth gives you enough of a twist at the end of each chapter to keep you wanting more. The only negative aspect I found in this book was that the middle part was a little more long-winded to read and devour - though this is the section where our main characters are on an alien planet and maybe with my previously admitted disposition to not liking sci-fi, it’s most likely this was down to my personal preferences.

By the final third, when Toby and the rest of the human clan are on a deadline to save planet Earth, I was back in the zone - turning every page wanting to find out exactly how it was going to end. Would they succeed in their mission? Could this “nobody” really be the saviour?

How to Buy a Planet is a fun book, it has so many traces of being a 2020 book, which is what makes it a perfect novel to read as we [hopefully] come to the end of the worldwide pandemic. Holdsworth has managed to create a fast-moving, non-serious story that in some ways shows his complex thinking about alien life forms, and in other ways, boldly insults the world leaders - and who doesn’t want that?

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