Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Atomic Weight of Secrets
Bancroft Press, 2011
Middle Grade; Historical; Mystery
First in the Young Inventors Guild
Source: Received a free e-copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Five children (Jasper, his sister Lucy, Wallace, Noah, and Faye) are taken to a schoolhouse farm in Ohio while their brilliant scientist parents are at work with no opportunity to contact them. The wonders of a farm and friendship are not enough to distract the children from the mysterious men in black whose presence overhangs all. And as time passes, more questions are raised than are answered and the children must forge their own path.
This book took me a very long time to read, considering how long a book usually takes me to read and the fact that it is MG/YA. I lean more toward MG because the five main characters range from 6 to 13 years old. But the book is a bit on the long side to be MG so I waver. I would certainly recommend it to fans of The Series of Unfortunate Events and probably to readers of Percy Jackson although I'm less familiar with that series.
What redeemed the book for me was the end which included a fun wink at history and more action as the mysterious Komar Romak menaced the children. Before that though there are many pages detailing the children's lives when they lived with their parents and then their lives on the farm together. While each of the children has an individual story, the outlines are all very similar: one or both parents are brilliant scientists whose focus on work leads them to not spend much time with their children; the children are also bright scientists or more specifically inventors as the series title details.
I loved the children and I felt for them in their confusion and uncertainty. Because of their smarts, they were ostracized at school or merely tutored at home by themselves, leaving a desire for friendship that is filled by the time among equals. Although they are familiar with a lab, the simple nursery rhymes and fairy tales I know so well are beyond their ken. Their time at the school-farm is thus a great growing experience for them. It would be hard to pick a favorite child but I do have a soft spot for the youngest child, Lucy. As baffling as the experience is for the older children, it's even harder on her.
In the end, I was left with loads of questions and a tiny snippet of the second book that should pique many.
Overall: For a long time, nothing seems to be happen but when the action kicks in, it is quite satisfying.
Read for Ebook challenge