Today, I'm reviewing the fabulous Tesla's Attic. It's been sitting on my shelf for quite some time, and I'd like to believe that like Tesla's inventions in this book - I read it just at the right time.
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Schusterman and Elfman have combined the ingenuity and spirit of Tesla with endearing characters of their own creation, into a story that will undoubtedly have readers flipping breathlessly through their adventure, and begging for the sequel.
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.
After a tragic family fire that ends up taking the life of Nick's mother, Nick, his father and his younger brother relocate to Colorado Springs, to the derelict house of a deceased relative. Inside, Nick ends up finding a lot of odds and ends in the attic, which he assumes is just junk. However, he quickly learns that these items are anything but…
Neal Schusterman and Eric Elfman have created a wonderful, inventive story with this novel. From the moment Nick first comes into contact with one of Tesla's inventions, to the cliffhanger that sets the stage nicely for book two, this book is the perfect combination of friendship, science, the bizarre and pure fun.
Schusterman and Elfman explore a number of issues in this book, from the practical question of what it's like for a young kid like Nick to start over in a new city, to the slightly impractical question of what one does when a secret organization isn't exactly seeing eye-to-eye with your actions.
(Answer: strategize a lot. Also, make some darned good friends like Caitlin, Mitch and Vincent, so they can do problem-solve with you too. And review dead goldfish - but that's a whole other story.)
Along the way, Schusterman and Elfman also add in some great educational and inspirational subplots, from exploring Nikola Tesla's scientific background, to having each of the characters intelligently and humorously explore their personal interests and personal natures - including romantic interests! - as they try to figure out what to do with Tesla's inventions. I developed a pretty big soft spot for Vincent, who has no problems with the fact that he's grumpy, and isn't afraid who knows it.
Of special note: Schusterman and Elfman write in third-person omniscient, with the narration occasionally almost taking on a separate personality on its own - verging on breaking the fourth wall. It's a hilarious, quirky writing technique that works really well with the tone and atmosphere of the story.
(Think Lemony Snicket's narration style, minus Lemony actually interjecting personal facts.)
I loved it, and I can easily see a lot of readers, particularly younger ones, finding a lot of charm with this technique.
Also, educators and parents should be aware that there is several instances of character death in this book, but it's introduced in a way that is not gruesome or depressing. If anything, I would say it has a very fact-of-life tone about it, which is also very Lemony Snicket of the book.
Schusterman and Elfman have done a great thing with this book and with this series: they've created a group of characters that are not only endearing, thoughtful and act their age, but also have the types of interests and personalities that are sure to get the imaginations of readers going.
I highly, highly recommend this book for science fiction fans of all ages, but especially for those who are looking for books for younger and more reluctant readers. I actually wouldn't be surprised if librarians and educators saw a surge in young readers looking for books about Nikola Tesla after reading this book, and that can only be a good thing.
As for me, I absolutely can't wait to find out what happens in the next book, and I will be wholeheartedly recommending this book to everyone I know in the meantime.
Disclaimer: I received a finished copy of Tesla's Attic from Disney Hyperion in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!