Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tesla's Attic (review)

4/5 stars

Tesla's Attic (Goodreads | Amazon) is fun lighthearted middle-grade book.  It's the type of book that I hope kids can still enjoy, it has a dash of mystery, a good sense of humor and a nice adventurous plot to keep readers entertained.  There are nice heartwarming moments without feeling message-heavy.  Overall, this book does everything right.

After a fire destroys their life and kills their mother, Nick and his family pack up their lives and move to Colorado Spring to a house previously owned by his great-aunt.  The house is a sprawling older home and filled with lots of strange junk that hasn't been touched in years.  To create space in the attic, Nick decides to have a yard sale in hopes of offloading some of the old crap he found. The garage sale goes miraculously well, the whole neighborhood flocking to his house in the middle of a storm to find their perfect item.  It's strange, almost impossible, how determined the shoppers are but Nick doesn't complain because his family could use the cash.  Only afterwards does Nick realize what might have looked like typical household items have strange unknown powers.

Supposedly Nickola Tesla, the famous inventor, created all these items and hid their ability.  The science is questionable at best, creating more of a sense of magical-realism with the inventions rather than science based on anything possible.  But the tidbits about Tesla, his outcast status, his fights with Edison, are interesting and insightful.  The writing style is fun, the point of view jumping between a few quirky characters like Petula, a bit of a schemer, Caitlin, the artist popular girl who likes to pretend she has it together, Theo the jock who tries to be mediocre, and the main character Nick who might be the most normal of the bunch.
"Petula didn't consider herself a scheming person, she preferred to think of it as interpersonal engineering.  It was all about spin."
Despite the heavy backstory, this book is a fun and lighthearted adventure story about Nick trying to find his place in a new school, trying to find out what Tesla's inventions do, all while avoiding the dreaded secret society The Accelarti who are after Tesla's inventions for their own financial gain. It's a quick-reading, quirky, sometimes silly and enjoyable romp of a book.

I received an advance reading e-book in exchange for an honest review. 

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