Under the Blue Comet

Book 1 The Comet Kid Chronicles

Children - Grade 4th-6th
365 Pages
Reviewed on 12/26/2020
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Tom Hoffman received a B.S. in psychology from Georgetown University and a B.A. from the now-defunct Oregon College of Art. He has lived in Alaska with his wife Alexis since 1973. They have two adult children and three adorable grandchildren. Tom was a graphic designer and artist for over 35 years. Redirecting his imagination from art to writing, he wrote his first novel, The Eleventh Ring, at age 63. He recently completed the three book series, The Comet Kid Chronicles.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Under the Blue Comet by Tom Hoffman is the first book in The Comet Kid Chronicles, a well-crafted story for fourth to sixth graders. It is filled with adventure and magic. Eleven-year-old Max Underwood’s life changes on his birthday when he becomes conscious of his incredible powers. His parents are not who he has believed them to be, a realization that is eye-opening and disturbing for him. But there is no time to process the mysterious happenings in his life as he and his sister, Grace, are kidnapped by an alien and transported to a dying, dystopian world through a wormhole. The android known as Crystal Father controls this world. Max and his sister are faced with numerous challenges, from the harsh environment to deadly creatures, to aliens, and unforgiving bandits. As they unravel the mystery of the blue comet, they also create friendships with Sophie and Zeus, an eccentric robot. Ultimately, the fate of Earth is in their hands as they mount a standoff against powerful forces.

This is a sweet story, as adventurous as it is entertaining. Max is well-developed, a boy born under a blue comet, who must figure out his mission and who he is while exploring an uncharted alien world with his sister. While the novel is written for young readers, it was a gorgeous read for me, exciting and filled with fun. Tom Hoffman explores themes of adventure, family, friendship, courage, and inclusion in a grand style, showing readers that differences are not an obstacle to finding common ground and working together. There are lessons of teamwork and the message that collaboration with others brings bigger success comes out clearly in the story. The prose is beautiful. The world the author creates is imaginative and exciting to explore. Character development is stellar, and the plot points are equally strong. The humor is plentiful in the story. I enjoyed every bit of Under the Blue Comet, and this is a story with some entertainment for a wider audience than sixth graders.

Jack Magnus

Under the Blue Comet: The Comet Kid Chronicles, Book One is an adventure fantasy novel for children, grades 4-6, written by Tom Hoffman. Max couldn’t help but be excited over his 11th birthday. He was hoping that his parents had gotten a controller and video games for him, like the setup Larry had, though they were giving him no clue about what he would be getting. His birthday did turn out to be as cool as he had hoped, even if he didn’t get the video game setup. Something definitely strange, however, did happen late that night. He had woken up feeling awful and figured he had caught the flu his mom had, but that had been nothing compared to the shock of seeing that his hands were glowing and blue. He fought down the waves of panic and decided to ask his parents about it. Maybe they had a solution, but when he went to their bedroom, they weren’t there. Where were they? What happened to the boring existence he so often complained about? Little did he know his adventure was just beginning.

Under the Blue Comet is a marvelous romp that takes place on a faraway planet, as 11-year-old Max shoulders the responsibility for the future of planet Earth as he and his sister, Grace, contend with harsh desert terrains, a myriad of creatures that bite, stab and slither, and a vast army of crystal automatons poised to take over the universe, or at least, every part of it they were able to find out about. I love quest fantasy literature and Hoffman’s middle-school adventure tale ranks with the best of them. Gamers will appreciate the feeling which pervades throughout the story that Max and Grace are actually taking part in a video-game style adventure, filled with mines where abandoned bags hold valuable items, maps that seem impossible to follow unless you use your imagination, and unlikely guardians who often point the way when things get really dicey.

The author’s plot is fabulous, and the action is spellbinding. Best of all, the reader is in the company of the arch-prankster, Max Underwood, a kid who cannot resist a “do not push” button and is always up for a bit of fun. His slightly older sister, Grace, is a marvelous foil for his exuberance and actions that sometimes might be regarded as just a bit reckless. The two of them are the consummate questors; their courage and resourcefulness are inspiring and exhilarating in equal parts. While this book is geared towards a middle-grade audience, anyone who enjoys quest fantasy or remembers fondly their first time reading Frank Herbert’s classic work, Dune, will no doubt enjoy this book as much as I have. And those who’ve read Hoffman’s other fantasy series will appreciate seeing glimpses of those other worlds and stories hiding in plain sight when one least expects them to. Hoffman’s characters are authentic and genuine, and his story is an imaginative tour de force. Under the Blue Comet is most highly recommended.

Joel R. Dennstedt

If you are a fan of Tom Hoffman’s books, an awesome series meant for youngsters (if you’re an adult, get a youngster card), you’re already familiar with the automatic reading benefits now featured in this new offering, Under the Blue Comet. Premiering yet another brilliant series - The Comet Kid Chronicles - this latest work retains everything that makes the prolific author’s books so popular: Infinite imagination, metaphysical meanderings, courageous companions, amazing adventures, audacious aliens, and copious clusters of clever quips. Brought together in a story more enticing and engaging than any told before, Mr. Hoffman manages to provide his characters with even more uniquely beguiling gifts and skills, including portal producing powers, holistically healthy healing, and active animal associations. You are absolutely guaranteed a most satisfying youngster reading experience.

A lot of praise for just one book, yet totally deserved for Tom Hoffman’s Under the Blue Comet. Max was born under a blue comet. Sister Grace is amazing too. Sophie is an “Other,” destined to fight dark forces. Zeus is solar powered. Good guys all, chosen by mysterious higher beings to save the world by traveling to another where things must be done, things must happen, lots of things must be encountered. Quick aside: Another trademark of Hoffman’s otherworldly writings are a myriad of unusual creatures creeping through his pages. Nailbugs, ferals, an abominable snowman, and sandclaws, to name a few. No spoiler alert necessary. When you enter a Tom Hoffman world, you’ve no idea what you might encounter. Bring your membership card. You’ll need it.

Lesley Jones

In Under the Blue Comet by Tom Hoffman, Max's grandma warned him that on his 11th birthday something was going to happen that would change his life forever. He discovers he was born under the blue comet and that brings special powers and responsibilities, one of which is to battle a dangerous mysterious force. A discovery in his attic leads Max and his sister Grace to investigate what secrets his parents are hiding. Max and Grace are kidnapped by an escaped alien whose spaceship had crashed on Earth. The children are taken from Kansas through a wormhole to a strange alien land that has suffered an Armageddon. The world is governed by a ruthless android called the Crystal Father who has overthrown a race called the Ardenians and is now preparing a warship to invade Earth. As Max and Grace try to find the Crystal Father and defeat him, they meet strange creatures and stone age aliens. They face many dangers along the way, including worm poo. Max realizes the truth behind his special powers and as he and his sister fight for survival, they enlist the help of a cosmic girl named Sophie and a wacky robot to release the Ardenians and save Earth.

Under the Blue Comet by Tom Hoffman is such a compelling adventure story that reveals layer upon layer of mystery as the plot unfolds. Max is a great character, I loved his sense of humor even when he is faced with danger. One of my favorite of his witty one-liners was to the Ardenian race, “I’m not any kind of demon! What’s wrong with you people?” I thought the relationship and bond between Max and his sister Grace developed perfectly, from squabbling siblings to a fearless partnership in battle. The dialogue was sharp and realistic throughout. The creatures they meet are really imaginative and described so vividly. There is also a great plot twist when they finally meet the Crystal Father. I thought there was a powerful message hidden in the story, which relates to the present situation as we try to face our fears and live a relatively normal life. The line spoken by Max was extremely poignant, “If you bring everyone back to the surface and tell them there are no demons, it won’t take long for them to get back to normal. It might be a little scary for them, but that’s what makes it exciting.” Any child reading this book will learn the power of being kind, accepting of others, and not to be judgemental. The second story where more of The Others will be revealed is eagerly awaited.

Vincent Dublado

Book 1 of Tom Hoffman’s Comet Kid Chronicles presents Under the Blue Comet. This story promises to grow as we get to know its characters. Max Underwood was born under mysterious circumstances of glowing blue when a comet hit Earth on the day he was born, and a momentous event happens on his eleventh birthday as he gains the power of healing and animal communication. On top of that, he is not aware that his parents work for the Exo Defense Command (XODC), a top-secret organization that protects the planet from dangerous entities. When Max and his older sister Grace are kidnapped by escaped aliens called the Sparkle, controlled by the Crystal Father, Max and Grace will contend with a harsh environment with plenty of hostiles. With the help of a girl named Sophie and her android Zeus, who can vaporize holes through solid rock, Max will discover that he is far more than what he thinks he is—and this is just the beginning of their adventures.

The boy wonder is a popular trope in both American and British young adult fiction. Think of Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, and Percy Jackson for starters. In following the tradition, Hoffman’s Under the Blue Comet is a very good book in its own right as this first installment proves. The fun with this plot is reading about Max and his sister navigating their way through dangerous situations, as the assortment of baddies is unique in themselves - you will find them equally interesting. At Max’s tender age, you cannot help but wonder that he already has too much responsibility, especially in keeping secrets. But like any other young heroes in fiction, Max is not without flaws, and that is another reason to root for this series. If you enjoy the boy wonder protagonist in young adult fiction, there is a big chance that you will enjoy and follow Max Underwood too.