Jim and his friend Charlie aren't very good at staying out of trouble. When Jim's older sister, Becky, tells him that the teachers at school have been talking about kicking him out, he's nervous even though he and Becky have never got along and often play practical jokes on each other. If it turns out that she's right, he'll have to go to the dreaded alternative school. In order to find out if she is serious, Jim and Charlie plant walkie talkies in the teachers' lounge in order to listen in on a faculty meeting. What they hear is far more serious than a suspension, however, and it sets off an adventure involving a motorbike, Scotland, laser beams, and aliens from outer space.
Although I didn't enjoy this book as much as the author's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I thought it was a fun, quick read. The overall plot is pretty predictable, but the characters are charming and witty enough to make up for lack of suspense. It seems like Mark Haddon really remembers what it was like to be a kid, and it comes through in the narration.