Thank you NetGalley and Oneworld Publications/Rock the Boat for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
When twelve-year-old Alex receives an old tin robot in the post, the note from his grandfather simply reads: ‘This one is special’. But as strange events start occurring around him, it doesn’t take Alex long to suspect that the small toy is more than special; it might also be deadly.
Just as things are getting out of hand, Alex’s grandfather arrives, whisking him away from his otherwise humdrum life and into a world of strange, macabre magic. From Paris to Prague, they flee across snowy Europe in a quest to unravel the riddle of the little robot, and outwit relentless assassins of the human and mechanical kind. How does Alex’s grandfather know them? And can Alex safely harness the robot’s power, or will it fall into the wrong, wicked hands?
Monstrous Devices is a non-stop steampunk adventure story with action at every turn. This story is gripping and will encapsulate a younger reader easily. Unlike an adult book, the action started on the first few pages and didn’t stop until the end.
I really enjoyed the pacing of this book as it kept up with the urgency of the character’s mission. I also loved the villains – they were evil, violent and not dulled down just because the book is for children. You also weren’t 100% sure who they are which gave a nice element of mystery to the story! The creepiness level was just right – not too scary but not too predictable – I found myself spooked at some points which was quite refreshing!
I found the Grandfather an irritating character who was preachy and know-it-all whilst making bad decisions. This was probably done as a mirror of many children’s experiences with adults ‘knowing better’ and themselves ‘being too young for ___’, but it became increasingly annoying and distracted me from the plot. As we follow Alex through his adventures, we are only given the same information he is which can be understandably frustrating at some points. He acts like a 13 year old who is thrown into impossible circumstances and isn’t forced to act or say anything a 13 year old wouldn’t. He isn’t a perfect character – he is flawed and has a varied range of emotions that aren’t always positive, but this gives him realness in a world of strangeness.
The book ends with quite a few questions unanswered, which leads me to believe there will be a sequel. I’d be interested to read it, but I think I’d want to know what is was about first! Maybe more Alex and Grandfather adventures and finding out more about Alex’s family/Grandfather’s past?
I think this book could have been incredible but some aspects didn’t work for me. That being said, I think children will enjoy it and find it an exciting and fun read. For this reason, I gave it 3 stars.
Monstrous Devices is out in the UK on 19th March.