RELEASED: March 19, 2020
PUBLISHER: Rock the Boat
FORMAT: Paperback [ARC – AD; thank you, Rock the Boat!]
GENRE: MG Science Fiction
GOODREADS RATING: 3.59
TRIGGERS: Bullying, violence
On a winter’s day in a British town, twelve-year-old Alex receives a package in the mail: an old tin robot from his grandfather. “This one is special,” says the enclosed note, and when strange events start occurring around him, Alex suspects this small toy is more than special; it might be deadly.
Right as things get out of hand, Alex’s grandfather arrives, pulling him away from an attack–and his otherwise humdrum world of friends, bullies, and homework–and into the macabre magic of an ancient family feud. Together, the duo flees across snowy Europe, unravelling the riddle of the little robot while trying to outwit relentless assassins of the human and mechanical kind.
I don’t dwell in middle grade often, but when I received this ARC I was intrigued. The last MG book I read thoroughly freaked me out [more about that in my review], so I was.. curious to find out whether it’d happen again. Even more so since science fiction is a genre I only find myself picking up these past two years and I’m always willing to branch out a little more when it comes to books.
Oh my. So.. Like.. I don’t know but in a way I’m ashamed to admit that yet another middle grade-book spooked me. I already admitted to Schwab’s City of Ghosts scaring me – not to mention if she’d written it as a young adult or even an adult novel. But.. I was kind of hoping that one would be an exception? It seems I’m simply a huge pussy because Monstrous Devices had me all goosebump-y only a couple of chapters in. Who knew I’d get freaked out by tiny robots? I know I didn’t. But, that’s beside the point. Thing is I got spooked and.. didn’t really expect it. Which made it all the better, looking back. We all want books that makes us feel and fear is part of that.
The story? I was intrigued! Can you imagine your younger self [or current self, depending on your age] getting stuck in a situation where there are live robots attacking you? People trying to take one of your toy robots? Not to mention having a grandfather taking you on a trip to Paris and Prague to solve this whole “robot-issue”? Well, Alex – our main character of 13 – can! And his character fit his age, which I appreciated. He was lost in what was going on, but still questioned things as well – like any curious 13 year old would!
I can definitely see children enjoying this fantastical story a lot – goosebumps and all! It helps how the events keep following one another so you barely have room for a breather and.. I think that’s exactly what this age group needs in books? I might be wrong, but.. I can imagine some kids needing a book that grabs and holds their attention because event after event after event happens.
But, back to the story! It started off with bullying – so be aware of that – but soon after the story got weird fast. Although the presence of – what seemed to be – an amazing and cool grandfather helped lighten the creepy mood. Admittedly, the creepiness decreased after the first couple of chapters but I’m not sure whether that’s me having mentally prepared myself better or not, haha.
Alex’ grandfather.. Now there’s a character I’m torn about. On the one hand I love the guy for protecting Alex, but still wanting to teach him things. He’s a unique guy with some funny quirks but..
He did get on my nerves at times. I can see why the author would go “Oh, I’m going to let grandfather smoke a cigaret but then make him repeat two times Alex should never do that since it’s bad for your health!” Not only regarding smoking, but different subjects. I couldn’t help think that maybe.. you shouldn’t make his grandfather do those things in the first place then? The whole “yeah, you shouldn’t do this yourself, Alex”-thing got repetitive after a while and I didn’t like it. [It might definitely not be an issue for younger readers, but it got to me, okay.]
QUESTIONS. I had so many questions during the story and they barely got answered. By the end of the book, I was hoping to at least understand more of what was going on but.. that didn’t happen? I know there’ll be a sequel, but I hate having this many questions left after finishing a book. I’m not a fan of open endings in general and this honestly feels like one.
I do have some issues with this book, but I feel like it’s mainly due to my being 27 – and definitely not the intended age group. I can imagine my younger self enjoying some of the things I now experienced as “negative”, to put it in an extreme way. But.. Overall I definitely enjoyed the story, the pace and the creepiness / action!
Do you read Middle Grade-books? Do you have a harder time rating them?
What’s a book with robots you’d recommend to someone rarely reading scifi?