Publisher: Bancroft Press
Hardcover: 320 pages
Source: ARC (Thanks NetGalley!)
For Challenge: A-Z Reading Challenge
Summary: (Taken from Goodreads *Note* I have shortened the summary)
In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world's most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.Review:
But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.
From all across the world, they've been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can't give them answers.
Things only get stranger from there. What is the book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother's underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?
How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives?
And why haven't their parents tried to contact them?
Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye, the situation is clear: They and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they're going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn't even know they were all working on an invention that will change the world forever.
But what if the men in black aren't trying to harm the children? What if they're trying to protect them?
And if they're trying to protect them, from what?
This book is most definitely written for the younger spectrum of the young adult audience. However, I found myself always wondering what was going to happen next, which made me not want to put the book down. There were times when it dragged, but for the most part, I was completely involved in the world that Bowditch has created.
The characters are charming. I fell in love with all of the five young inventors and completely sympathized with their individual worries. What I love about them is that they each have unique strengths and personalities and can bring different ideas to the table. The way they interact with each other shows how important friendship is and how a group of people (even children) can be more brilliant with each other than without.
One of the best things about this book is the growth that happens throughout the story. Each of the characters changes in some way because of the obstacles they face and because of the friendships they build with each other. I also like how Bowditch gives us excerpts from each of the character’s points of view, even Miss Brett, the teacher who is put in charge of the five inventors. This really allowed me to connect with every character and get a sense of who they are, where they come from, and what challenges they face within their lives.
But there were a few things that bothered me, which is why I’m not giving this book a five. Firstly, some of the stuff that happens is over the top. For example, the men in black all have very strange costumes; one wears a lady’s bonnet, one an inner tube, one has earmuffs and a teddy bear. I didn’t see the point of all this other than to make them more “mysterious.” This just didn’t do it for me. I think it would have been better if they had been more normal. However, I say this without having read the sequel, which may explain why they wear such ridiculous clothes. So, while it bothered me, I do understand that it may be explained later on. I would have liked to have a hint of an explanation in this book, though. Also, I find it strange that Faye just happens to be related to two rather prominent people (I'm not telling who!). Their appearance is very sudden and would have been much better had Faye’s relationship with them been mentioned or hinted at before we met them. It seems weird because she talks about her cousin Katherine before we meet her in the story, but doesn’t mention her other cousins.
Conclusion: This is a fun, entertaining book that’s at least worth a try. I enjoyed it and I think those who are interested in mystery, kid geniuses, and historical fiction may enjoy this too.