The Mad Scientists of New Jersey, by Chris Sorensen, (2016, 196 pages), is the first book in a planned series. That red dragon-thing on the front cover? It’s actually a crazy robotic version of the (New) Jersey Devil. You don’t want to mess with him. Trust me.
Summary from Goodreads:
Eddie Edison is the last of the Mad Scientists of New Jersey. After his father is abducted, Eddie is left foundering with no knowledge of his birthright. But when a mysterious stranger takes him under his wing, Eddie learns that not only is he the only hope of retrieving his father, but that he is the only person left to stand against the evil genius who brought about extinction of the Mad Scientists.
This book will appeal to kids who like things-flying-around action, creatures-crashing-through-walls action, and kids-time-traveling-into-a-pizzeria-for-two-minutes action. Eddie’s sidekicks are his old friend Pudge, and his new friend Roxie, who is the new girl at school. They have to deal with some mean teachers, as well as some bullies. (I’m hoping there are more kind people in the next book.) There are also a couple of eccentric, unpredictable old men in the mix.
At some point, Eddie realizes a lot of mechanical knowledge has been uploaded to his brain. (I could use that.) My favorite part of the book was when Pudge is taken by evil forces and Eddie asks one of the eccentric old men for help to get him back. The man says, “You want him back? Fine. Figure it out. No one’s stopping you.” I like this moment in which Eddie realizes it’s going to be his responsibility, but that he does now actually have the knowledge and the power to make it happen.
The next book in the series will be called The Defenders of Ong’s Hat.
Disclaimer: book received from the author.
On a completely different note, I want to share a letter I received many years ago from the wonderful Glendon Swarthout, author of Bless the Beasts and the Children. My high school English teacher was finding a lot of Christian symbolism in the book that I was skeptical the author intended and I wrote to the author about it. I don’t know if my teacher or I were more surprised when he wrote back! I am still grateful he took the time. What a cool guy, huh?
For links to more middle grade book reviews, check out Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.