Nothing Interesting Ever Happens to Ethan Fairmont

Nothing Interesting Ever Happens to Ethan Fairmont
Age Range
Release Date
October 04, 2022
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Something cool happening in Ferrous City? Not a chance.

Until one day . . . when self-proclaimed genius inventor Ethan Fairmont runs into an abandoned car factory to avoid a local bully and accidentally stumbles across his ex-best friend Kareem, new kid Juan Carlos, and an extraterrestrial visitor. Cheese (the alien) is stuck on Earth in need of some serious repairs, spicy snacks—and absolute, total secrecy. That’s easier said than done when mysterious agents descend on Ferrous City to search for Cheese. With time running out and their family and friends in potential danger, can Ethan, Kareem, and Juan Carlos pull off an intergalactic rescue before they’re all found out?
E.T. meets Stranger Things in the kickoff to Nick Brooks’s middle-grade series that weaves contemporary issues of racial profiling, industrial community struggles, and everyday life in a fast-paced out-of-this-world adventure.

Editor review

1 review
Trouble... Right here in Ferrous City
Overall rating
Writing Style
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Ethan lives in Ferrous City, in a close knit neighborhood. His father is looking for work, his mother is a nurse, and their small house is crowded with four boys. Ethan loves to tinker with electronics, so takes refuge in the attic, where he has his guinea pig, Nugget, as well. He also goes to an abandoned factory in town where people discard many electronics, and where he has a small lab of his own where he can work on inventions like his Handy-Bot. He's supposed to be helping an elderly neighbor, and also making friends with a new boy his age, but instead spends his time at the factory or trolling Gadget Beach, another unofficial dump site, for more materials for his inventions. The new boy, Juan Carlos, follows him to the factory, and the two are surprised by a big silver "pinball" that seems to have crashed there. There's even an alien creature who picks up Ethan's interjection of disbelief, "cheese and crackers", whom they then call "Cheese". Cheese obviously needs help, and a lot of food, so Ethan and Juan Carlos try to figure out what's wrong with his spaceship to see if Ethan can fix it. Unfortunately, they must also deal with local bully, RJ, his sister Diamond, and Kareem, Ethan's erstwhile best friend, who give them a hard time. Cheese's arrival has alerted local authorities as well, who run a check point in town. Ethan's parents have just given him and his brothers "the talk" about how to interact with policemen, but when authorities arrest his father, it's hard for Ethan to stay quiet. Kareem tries to help, and Ethan learns about some things that went on in his life that made him create distance between him and Ethan. Will the three boys be able to work together to keep Cheese safe, fix his ship, reconnect him with his family, and keep the situation in Ferrous City from becoming volatile?
Good Points
I enjoyed the fact that Ethan wasn't into sports as much as his brothers were, but his parents didn't make him feel bad about it, except when he took his father's hat for a guinea pig carrier without asking! He's able to create a lot of inventions, and his brothers just rib him lightly. RJ is a bit of a threat, but not for too long. It's good to see him make a new friend in Juan Carlos, and it was interesting to see that both boys are given a lot of freedom to run around their neighborhood, as long as they are home by the time the streetlights come on. Of course, working in the reality of being a young Black man out and about was timely and important, and done in a way that made sense within the story. There's still a lot of adventures to be had, and Cheese, despite his lack of communication, is a sympathetic life form the boys want to help. There are complications, of course, and the Handy-Bot sees some hard use, but things turn out well at the end. A fun, upbeat adventure with lots of geeky gadgets!

This was such an intriguing setting that I could have used a little more information about Ferrous City, especially about The Factory and Gadget Beach, both of which seemed environmentally dangerous.

This will appeal to young readers because of the adventure and general goofiness, and it will appeal to adults who like books to have serious messages. Had a little of the feel of Stewart's The Wild Huntsboys, mainly because of the ensemble cast. A fun romp with some science and invention themes!
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