Bad Order is a mid-grade novel.

Book reviews for Bad Order

Always in the Middle…

MY REACTION: Take one part of the popular cable program Stranger Things, mix in a dose of Men in Black, and add a dash or two of the child like innocence of ET. What turns out is a unique story sure to please science fiction fans and pull in more us contemporary readers along the way.

Most of the chapters are told from 13-year-old Mary’s point of view, only deviating with an initial chapter about Albie and soon followed by one focused on the extraterrestrials. She’s spunky, honest, and a strong female lead. The 40 chapters are short and almost always end with a page turning cliffhanger (Read one in my favorite lines below).

The mom and grandmother stay clear of the action (they get stuck in another town due to a road closure) giving Mary, Albie, and their friends, Britt and Lars full control of what occurs. Geared toward grades 3-7, I’d recommend this intriguing tale to the upper end of that range given the small amounts of violence and language.


  1. The theme is a powerful one and shines through to the end: Together we can believe in the good of humankind for a positive future.
  2. Take away the fantasy side of the story and you have a set of believable characters who have all the normal kid concerns of growing up.
  3. I once owned a VW Bug and I had to laugh at how it was used in the plot.
  4. The reason as to why Albie doesn’t talk was a total surprise. A nice tie in to the dad Mary barely knew or understood.
  5. Comedy is provided by the aliens—Commodore, Med Tech Tek, and Citizen Lady. They aren’t quite ready for what awaits them in the human world.


Pearl! Albert’s memo seemed to slap me, interrupting my dark train of thought. He filled my brain with a cold, empty memo. The cold cleanliness of it squeezed out the red fever and froze the bad thoughts. In the middle of this cool, clean memo there was a tiny red thought, and the thought said RUN!

RJ Julia Independent Booksellers staff review
RJ Julia Booksellers
"This perfect science fiction novel (NOT fantasy) is my favorite book this year. The aliens remind me of Galaxy Quest, and the sibling relationship between Mary and Albert is realistic and heartwarming. B. B. Ullman writes in a way that makes me think this could happen right now, in my backyard. Fans of Stranger Things or A Wrinkle in Time will devour this great summer read!"
-Review by Jamie

My Book Abyss by J. L. SLIPAK: 5 Stars!

I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sci fi meets the Goonies. Normal surrounded by science and telepathy and every day growing pains. This is a terrific book and I found myself unable to put it down. I read it in two hours. Middle-grade level, but higher end chapter book readers could read and enjoy this story too.

Full of relationship issues, fitting in, being strong while enjoying the adventure. A very feet on the ground feeling throughout. Lots of actions, some mystery and great characters. You can’t go wrong with this fantastic book! Loved everything about it. The plot moved forward at an excellent pace, the size of the book is perfect and everything written is necessary and has a purpose. Well fleshed out characters, wonderfully flawed and very realistic and relatable.

I'm not sure how to even start writing about this book, but I'll try my best and pull from what I wrote on Goodreads immediately after finishing.

Even while I was reading Bad Order by B. B. Ullman, I kept thinking, "This is going to be hard to describe."

There is a boy, Albert, who communicates telepathically with his sister, Mary, three holographic aliens, a VW bug that flies, and a tear in something-or-other that allows bad feelings to infect people. As the tear grows and the bad feelings spread, people attack each other. But, Albert has an understanding of what happened and possibly the ability to fix it. I didn't fully understand that part but it has to do with his deceased father, a scientist, working in his lab before Albie was born.

Told you it was not going to be easy to describe. Bad Order is very entertaining, though. I had a little difficulty with suspension of disbelief because the science bits didn't sound particularly plausible. But, I liked the story enough to deliberately shove those feelings aside. The bottom line is that the story is about 3 children and a young adult working together to save humanity under difficult and dangerous circumstances and it's a tremendous ride.

All four of the main characters come from difficult circumstances and in addition to the tale of "interdimensional catastrophe", the author does a nice job of showing how the challenges of loss (a father), alcoholism (Mary's best friend Brit's mother), and poverty (all of the children in the book live in poverty) effect children.

Bad Order is an exciting and suspenseful read. As a middle grader, I know I would have enjoyed Bad Order because I loved anything that was otherworldly with children saving the day. So, I definitely recommend it for middle grade children who like fantasy or sci-fi. As an adult, I found it a little far-fetched but didn't care. I still thought it was a terrific read, once I'd set aside my disbelief. The holographic people are very entertaining and the relationships between the children are charming.

Highly recommended - Space travel, weird happenings, and a cooperative effort to keep a dangerous rift whose glowing mist could end life on earth make for a unique, page-turning plot that sci-fi- and fantasy-loving children will enjoy. I was captivated by Bad Order, even though I didn't always understand what was happening. A fun and wildly imaginative story.

I received a copy of Bad Order from Sterling Children's Books in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks!

The Horn Book (May/June issue):
"Originally sent to Earth to observe and gather data, a trio of extraterrestrial smartmass-holograph-research-units (SMHRs) discovers an interdimensional tear that allows negative energy into our world. Overstepping their mission, the SMHRs go off-script and decide to intervene by erasing this “bad order” and restoring the natural “good order” to Earth. Ill-equipped to fix this situation—because they have no consciousness—they recruit four youngsters to save the planet: Albert, the youngest, who, when in utero, encountered the dimension that contains all positive and negative thoughts and does not speak; his compassionate sister, Mary, with whom he communicates telepathically; Mary’s clever best friend, Brit; and Brit’s brave older brother. The emphasis here is on solving the problem rather than detailing the grisly consequences of it, which include paralyzing mass pessimism and uncontrolled violence spread through a red mist. Humor, particularly surrounding the SMHRs’ appearance (their attempts to take human form are sloppily executed) break the tension, while short chapters with exciting cliffhangers propel the plot at a quick pace.'

Books & Company, The Kid’s Advisory Board:
"This book was swift, compelling and really good. The main character, Mary, has a brother who can talk to her in mind-speech. He calls her "Pearl." Then a red mist comes to their world and brings with it bad thoughts. If you breathe it in, it causes you to forget everything good in your life and think only of the bad. Mary had to work with Agent Saunters, a smooth FBI-type guy, and a bunch of SMHR units (data-collecting robots) to try to solve the problem. The robots are extremely perceptive but it's hilarious when they try to pass as human and it doesn't really translate. The whole story is bound together by a really good plot. It stands on its own but I hope there's a sequel because I want to read it."
- Review by Michael, age 11

Sterling Children’s Publishing

Cover illustration by Shane Rebenschied.

Background art for this page is "Moon over Adeline" by B.B. Ullman.

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