Let’s be honest, Tom DeLonge has never made any secret of his ambitions on his own media empire, nor has he hid his opinions when it comes to his views on Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon – UFOs and aliens to you and I.
Well now he’s written a book about them.
Alongside an Angels and Airwaves soundtrack Tom DeLonge has released Chasing Shadows, the first book in his Sekret Machines series. Working with New York Times bestselling academic A.J. Hartley, Tom promises to blend actual events and sources he is said to have in the military and intelligence community into his multiple-narrative epic on what’s out there. Believer or not, this book marks the next big leap forward in Tom’s input into a world that eludes most.
So, here’s what we learned when we read the first book in his Sekret Machines series, Chasing Shadows:
Tom DeLonge doesn’t do things by halves
We say learned but really, we’ve just had this fact consolidated. In Chasing Shadows there are at least three solid plotlines, one diary of flashbacks to the 1940s in war-torn Europe, and a few added throughout the generations to fill in gaps. It’s also over 700 pages long.
You have Timika, the writer of Debunktion, a website dedicated to looking at wild myths and conspiracy theories and, generally, debunking them. Then there’s Jennifer, whose vastly rich father dies and leaves her trying to get her head around the kind of empire he was a part of. And of course, Alan, the pilot whose vehicle is immobilised inexplicably in action, forcing him into a surprising change of career.
These modern tales are tied together but Jerzy Stern’s diary, a book that details his life from 1939 Europe, the Nazis, their work and more. It’s a book that people will kill to get their hands on, but most don’t know why. If Tom was doing to do a book on this topic, it was never going to be a one plot type deal. Alongside an accompanying soundtrack (which is also very, very good), it’s a project beyond the scope of most.
It’s very well researched
If the sheer detail of the descriptions of historical ideas and technology didn’t give away the level of research undertaken by Tom and co-writer A.J. Hartley, pluck a name at random of someone who moved from Germany to the USA or an equivalent and Google it. The first we tried was Wernher von Braun, just to see if the name was based on someone: he’s actually a German, later American, aerospace engineer and space architect. You’ll lose yourself in many a Wikipedia page researching the people who pepper this fiction, but whose real lives are incredibly interesting and slot in here seamlessly. The extent to which this is done is only realised when you start your own digging. Yes, the book gets you asking your own questions.
He doesn’t do subtlety
With an intricate and overlapping plot comes the need for clues and ties. They’re not subtly laid out for the reader to pick up on and remember as a tiny fragment further down the story, so much as mentioned over and over, with arrow signs and the word ‘IMPORTANT’ flashing around them. A childhood memory is dangled in front of the reader half a dozen times before its content is unveiled, though by the second mention, it’s certainly of importance.
But, it’s actually really good
While the mystery of some parts aren’t exactly shrouded, the whole book keeps you guessing in many ways. When you promise yourself just one more chapter, you see whose story picks up next and dive straight back in. Sekret Machines: Chasing Shadows is a four-pronged thriller that hooks you in at different times; it can be slow, but it’s never boring. As you fall less interested with one in passing, another leaps up and keeps the pages turning, and when played with Angels and Airwaves in the background, it has that added sense of adventure.
The generation-spanning, international scope of the story is impressive, and the fact that Tom and A.J. have created something that makes you whizz through 700 pages is something astounding in itself. It tackles the topic seriously, and with fun (Men In Black references are always a good thing). So many stories weave together, blending fact and fiction, and the book falls more in line with government cover-ups, as security issues, than the tinfoil hat crew.
tl;dr Question the potential of the world around you, and that not around you, through four stories that will keep the pages turning.
And a fun fact…
On a UFO sighting: “Pilots have been recording encounters like the one you had for a long time. Did you know that, Major? Bomber crews in World War II called them Foo Fighters – like the band. A corruption of the French word feu, meaning ‘fire’.”
Just for when you’re trying to out-Grohl your friends.