Review Detail

A remarkable group of young inventors change the course of history (and eat lots of nice food)
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
0.0
In The Atomic Weight of Secrets, or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch, a group of remarkable children must become masters and mistresses of their own fates, while inexplicable, somewhat vague grown-ups hover around the edges. (Sound familiar? I suspect many children, even if more prosaically, experience the world in a similar way.) In this intricately plotted, well-written novel, the five main characters -- Jasper, Lucy, Wallace, Faye and Noah -- are not just any old kids, but rather the remarkably intelligent sons and daughters of scientists (and one opera singer). Under the most puzzling of circumstances, they are separated from their parents, kept prisoneralthough in very friendly places, with glorious food, soft beds and kind nannies and a sympathetic teacherby the truly mysterious Men in Black.

The Men in Black are literally dressed in black, but in this world, that means way more than black trousers and tops; it means black inner-tubes, feathered bonnets, velvet capes, lace ruffs, fluffy ear muffs and fur boots. This whimsical touchthat each man in black is distinguishable from every other by some strange quirk of clothingadds humor, but also a sense of the unreal. It seems impossible that such oddly-dressed, silent men could have so much power, yet they have taken and hidden the childrens parents (perhaps keeping them working on a secret scientific project), and have placed the children in the hands of strangers.

What the Men in Black may or may not be counting on is that the children are scientists themselves, engineers and chemists and inventors. Although all five are from very different worlds, after they are thrust together and faced with a common enemy, they learn to work together and together, they invent something remarkable they could none have them invented on their own.

The book is written in a slightly old-fashioned style that suits its setting (the beginning of the twentieth century), and there were passages where the writing truly soared. This is a story that could only be told from multiple perspectives, and yet the hopping from one childs story to another to another did sometimes keep the reader at an emotional distance. The book starts a bit slowly, but truly hits its stride in the last third, when all the stories come together into a whole and the children work as one force to outwit those forces opposing them. The threads left untied at the end are of the ooh, I wonder what happens next variety (so different from the argh, what just happened kind of ending). Its an ambitious and complex story -- and if it does not quite live up to its promise, neither does it disappoint.

The design is very appealing as well (I particularly loved the gears-and-compasses font used in the chapter headings) and the book is as satisfying to look at as it is to read. The Atomic Weight of Secrets is very likely to appeal to those who loved The Mysterious Benedict Society (which is in some ways, a very similar book), and I for one am looking forward to the next installment.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Chasing Starlight
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Movies, mansions, and murder in the Golden Age of Hollywood!...
Kamala and Maya's Big Idea
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meena Harris debuts with an empowering picture book about two...
Harvey Holds His Own (The Harvey Stories, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The West Highland Terrier that brought Harvey Comes Home to...
Everything I Thought I Knew
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
A teenage girl wonders if she’s inherited more than just...
The Morning Flower (The Omte Origins, #2)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to...
The Hunt
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Death marked her from her very first breath. Being...
Swallowed by a Secret
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
One dead father. One lying mother. ...
Circus of the Dead Book One
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
There are many ways to die at the Circus...
Roaring
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Colt Clemmons is an agent in a specialized division...
Court of Lions
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Court of Lions is the long-awaited second and final...
More Than Just a Pretty Face
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Jenny Han, a...
The Adventurers Guild: Night of Dangers
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
After the events at Llethanyl, city of the elves, Zed...
And Then I Turned into a Mermaid (And Then I Turned into a Mermaid, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Emily Windsnap and Maybe A Mermaid, And...
After the Worst Thing Happens
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Left reeling after her thoughtless mistake causes a terrible accident,...
Hirana's War: Book Two in the Eloia Born Series
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Praise for Eloia Born “Loved it! A well-written narrative...
Hans Christian Andersen: The Journey of His Life
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
"If you like, I’ll tell you the story of a...

Latest Member Reviews

Aftermath
 
5.0
"Each second of my four years, two months, and seven days in the attic dragged on forever, and nothing ever..."
Aftermath
 
4.3
"This is a rich, realistic tale about facing horrors and surviving through the darkness planted in your mind. I was..."
Aftermath
 
4.3
"What worked: This is at times a gut-wrenching, emotional tale of a teen who is found after being abducted. ..."
Emmy & Oliver
 
N/A
"When they were seven-years-old, Emmy and Oliver were best friends. Then Oliver’s dad kidnapped him and he wasn’t heard from..."
Pointe
 
5.0
"Just after I read Pointe I had a family emergency that took me away from home for a few weeks...."
Emmy & Oliver
 
3.7
"If there’s anything you’re going to take away from this book, or a few other Robin Benway books, is that..."
Emmy & Oliver
 
4.7
"When they were seven-years-old, Emmy and Oliver were best friends. Then Oliver's dad kidnapped him and he wasn't heard from..."
The Disappearance of Emily H.
 
4.0
"Raine isn't happy that her mother has moved them again, escaping from another not-so-nice boyfriend and "starting over". It means..."
Emmy & Oliver
 
4.5
" I wanted to read Emmy and Oliver because it sounded like an emotionally charged book, and..."
Unaccompanied Minor
 
4.3
"Every once in awhile I come across a book that I just can’t put down. It’s a fun read, a..."
Emmy & Oliver
 
5.0
"First Impressions I got an ARC of Emmy & Oliver from The Regulator Bookshop in February. I saw it..."
Pointe
 
3.7
"What I Liked Theo, short for Theodora, makes a lot of really bad choices. She’s definitely riding on the hot..."