Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tesla's Attic - Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

Summary: Tesla’s Attic is the first book in a brilliantly imagined and hilariously written trilogy that combines science, magic, intrigue, and just plain weirdness, about four kids who are caught up in a dangerous plan concocted by the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla.

After their home burns down, fourteen-year-old Nick, his younger brother, and their father move into a ramshackle Victorian house they've inherited. When Nick opens the door to his attic room, he's hit in the head by a toaster. That's just the beginning of his weird experiences with the old junk stored up there. After getting rid of the odd antiques in a garage sale, Nick befriends some local kids-Mitch, Caitlin, and Vincent-and they discover that all of the objects have extraordinary properties. What's more, Nick figures out that the attic is a strange magnetic vortex, which attracts all sorts of trouble. It's as if the attic itself has an intelligence . . . and a purpose.

Ultimately Nick learns that the genius Nikola Tesla placed the items-his last inventions-in the attic as part of a larger plan that he mathematically predicted. Nick and his new friends must retrieve everything that was sold at the garage sale and keep it safe. But the task is fraught with peril-in addition to the dangers inherent in Tesla's mysterious and powerful creations, a secret society of physicists, the Accelerati, is determined to stop Nick and alter destiny to achieve its own devious ends. It's a lot for a guy to handle, especially when he'd much rather fly under the radar as the new kid in town.

Fans of intrigue, action, humor, and nonstop surprises are guaranteed a read unlike any other in Tesla's Attic, Book One of the Accelerati Trilogy. (Summary and image from

Review: Nick has had a rough year. His idyllic family home and life was destroyed in a minute when his home burned to the ground, taking his mother with it. His father is struggling. His brother is annoying. All Nick has is baseball, and a ramshackle old house they’re stuck living in. In an effort to get his life moving forward again, Nick cleans out the attic (the room he’s also claimed as his own), tries to make a little cash by holding a garage sale, and that’s when things start getting weird. People want his junk. They don't just mildly want it, they’re clamoring for it. It’s somehow calling to them.

The deeper Nick digs the more questions he uncovers. Before he knows it, he’s allying with kids from school he never expected, he's struggling to hunt down and retrieve all of that junk he stole, and can you please explain why his attic seems to have developed a gravitational force?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is the kind of book you can either hand to your Middle Zone readers and they’ll have it finished in a day or two, or the kind you can enjoy yourself in a few hours when your brain just needs a break. Schusterman’s style is engaging, quick, and intriguing. I enjoyed trying to puzzle out what was going to happen, how everything connected, and finding myself surprised more than once.

Of course, our villains are stereotypical. Characters aren’t as complex or as multifaceted as one would expect from an adult novel, but Middle Zone still feels like a very “White Hat/Black Hat” literary area. As long as you remember what you’re reading, I see no problem with that. If you’re looking for Victor Hugo levels of character development and backstory, you’re in the wrong genre. However, if you’re looking for a fun book with a few twists and turns that will keep you (or your kids) engaged, this is a great one to pick up.

Rating: Four stars

For the Sensitive Reader: There’s a kiss. It’s not exactly welcome — the girl kind of forces her hand. 

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