The Unfocused Man

The Comet Kid Chronicles #2

Children - Fantasy/Sci-Fi
339 Pages
Reviewed on 01/28/2021
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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 Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

The Unfocused Man: The Comet Kid Chronicles #2 is a fantasy/science fiction novel written by Tom Hoffman. After their adventures on the planet Ardenia, eleven-year-old Max and his big sister, Grace, were having some problems adjusting to life in their home surrounded by cornfields. Even the knowledge that their parents were far more than the boring government workers they had thought they were didn’t make up for the rather humdrum small-town life they left. They both missed their friend Sophie and found their parents’ request that they do not try to find her difficult to heed. Something happened; however; that made contacting Sophie an imperative. And it all started in the oddest of ways...

The Unfocused Man had me remembering how mind-bogglingly exciting discovering science fiction was for me when I was in the age group targeted for this book. Hoffman deftly brings the new reader into the action within the first few pages of this book. That said, do consider reading these books in order. They are marvelous and loads of fun no matter your age or inclination towards middle-grade science fiction. Hoffman weaves science fiction concepts and terminology smoothly and fluidly, effortlessly initiating a new generation of readers into the magic that is science fiction.

I loved this story. Hoffman’s irrepressible humor and vibrant inner child shines out throughout this imaginative and enjoyable adventure. The plot is solid yet sprightly and the action is non-stop. I took my time reading this book; I wanted to enjoy every nuance and bit of fun sprinkled throughout the work. Be prepared to laugh out loud sometimes; the humor in this entertaining and wise story is infectious and refreshingly middle grade oriented. As always, Hoffman’s characters are beautifully fleshed out and real; his writing seems effortless and elegant, and his story rocks. The Comet Kid Chronicle is a series you won’t want to miss. It’s most highly recommended.

Joel R. Dennstedt

At one point in The Unfocused Man by Tom Hoffman, a woodpecker spy is offered a generous bribe of peanut butter to do a difficult task, whereupon he encourages Max, one of several kids born beneath a comet (his, the color blue) to: “Tell me more about the mission. Will there be skulking? Skulking is good.” And there you have all you need to know about the second book of an exceptional new series, The Comet Kid Chronicles. No, you say? Yes, I say. What does this opening sentence tell you? Somewhere within, someone described as an unfocused man will make an unusual appearance. A bird will communicate in an unusual way with an unusual boy – one of several unusual children – and there is obviously embedded in this unusual tale a lot of unusual humor. Not to mention skulking, which is always good in such unusual circumstances. Also, peanut butter, which is unusually good, always.

On a more serious note, Tom Hoffman continues to beguile and enchant young readers’ imaginations with his metaphysically inspired creations, and most recently with the advent of his brand-new series about the Comet Kids, and specifically with the advent of this second episode, The Unfocused Man. It is rather difficult to talk about plot in Tom Hoffman’s books. One might best describe them as ‘webs of adventurous, humorous, out-of-this-world activity’. And what about the apparent coincidences portending spontaneous danger, but handled with expedient intent and admirably fortunate results? Welcome to the whimsical but protective universe of a most unusual author.

Liz Konkel

The Unfocused Man: A Thrilling Middle-Grade Epic Quest Fantasy filled with Adventure, Humor, Fun, and Friendship by Tom Hoffman is book two in The Comet Kid Chronicles. Max and Grace are on a search for their friend Sophie after they discover that a being known as the Unfocused Man is searching for her as well. Their search takes them on an incredible journey that pushes them to be brave and heroic to save refugees stranded on an interstellar ship. But for the Comet Kids, nothing is ever easy as they must search for the missing captain and crew. It's up to the siblings and their friends to find them and stage daring rescues even if it means facing monsters, warriors, and what lies deep within the sea.

The second installment in the Comet Kid Chronicles picks up with the Comet Kids facing a new threat. Tom Hoffman delivers a story that has a humorous tone woven throughout the action with fun plays on words and a pun-orientated style that will make you laugh. The humor is seen through their dialogue and various elements such as the play on the names like Clara Voyant, who is a psychic, and an alien touch such as chocolate potatoes. The Unfocused Man is at the root of the story and is the threat that the kids are facing while also creating a mystery for them to solve. The inclusion of the Unfocused Man creates a suspenseful tone to the story as they race to find Sophie before he can.

The Comet Kids have a great responsibility placed on their shoulders which leads them into adventures filled with suspense, action, excitement, and humor. Children will love to read about these super-powered kids with extraordinary abilities that can travel to alien planets, jump through wormholes, and even dive down into the deepest part of the ocean. Their newest adventure will be a great treat for children of all ages as they encounter power, magic, adventures, aliens, and even chocolate potatoes. The Unfocused Man is another delightful adventure that takes them on a new journey and a mystery that tests them once again to be heroic.

Grace Masso

The Unfocused Man by Tom Hoffman is a good read for middle graders and — believe me — anyone who enjoys epic fantasy quests and adventure. It has strong shades of science fiction, the second book in The Comet Kid Chronicles. Max and Grace are happy to locate Sophie, their friend who has gone missing. But they make a startling discovery: the creature known as the Unfocused Man, a mass-less, living, energy form. Their contact with this being in the woods unveils new revelations and Max, Grace, and Sophie find themselves racing to space to save twenty-thousand souls. The ISS Xanadu is an interstellar ship carrying the last hope of a race, twenty-thousand souls who survived the great asteroid strike, and the ship now orbits the world of Praelium, a G-Class star in the constellation known as Cetus. The “Ghost Jumper” believes the kids can use their comet powers to save the remnant of his kind. Can they beat the odds stacked against them and complete this perilous mission?

There is a lot of fun in this book. To start off, the author creates characters that are interesting and rock-solid, without missing to put them in a world that will be exciting to young readers. The three key characters are bold, and I enjoyed the way the author builds the theme of teamwork. They care for each other and finding them through challenging and humorous situations is hilarious. They are accompanied by an android called Wesley, who is not easy to handle as well. The descriptions are terrific, allowing readers to perceive clearly the harsh environment the trio has to navigate like the dangerous sea, lands infested by enemies, and a lot more. I loved the way the author explores the curiosity of the characters, right off the bat, they do just what they have been told not to do. There is too much to commend in this novel, and readers will enjoy the gorgeous writing, the strong voice, the clearly written points of view, and the beguiling dialogues that are hardly lacking in wit. The Unfocused Man is transporting, featuring both human characters and creatures that add depth to the entire story and that help in plot development. Tom Hoffman is a master entertainer and this new entry into his series is transporting. I laughed, smiled, and felt my heart racing as I followed these characters.

Romuald Dzemo

The Unfocused Man is the second book in The Comet Kid Chronicles by Tom Hoffman, introducing readers to three unforgettable characters: Max, Grace, and Sophie. Max and Grace have just located Sophie who has gone missing, but someone else has been looking for her as well — the Unfocused Man, a massless, scary being. The encounter with the “ghost jumper” who comes from another dimension changes everything for the trio. According to Gray, the ISS Xanadu, an interstellar ship carrying the last hope of their race — comprising of twenty thousand souls — is stuck after an asteroid struck and destroyed their world. The only hope of the ship and its passengers to survive is if Max and his friends use their comet powers to wormhole to the Xanadu, open the sleeper tubes, and wake the passengers. It is a mission that is fraught with dangers, battles, and unpredictable situations. Can they survive it?

Tom Hoffman has written a hugely imaginative story for fans of science fiction and has also succeeded to create characters that are real and memorable. The quirkiness that characterizes the narrative, especially in character handling — from Gray (the Unfocused Man or the Ghost Jumper) to Wesley, the damaged android, to the main characters — creates one of the strongest points that drive the entertainment in the story. The author’s gift for dialogue is exemplified in the narrative and I enjoyed how dialogue becomes revealing of character traits and how it enhances plot elements. While this is a story for fans of young adult fantasy and science fiction, it will appeal to readers who enjoy originality in plot and strong writing. It is a good, diverting read, with characters that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page. I will gladly pick up any other book in The Comet Kid Chronicles.