I was very excited to be able to read the books that proceeded the ARC I read a month ago (Review found here). These books bring out the kid in me and I wish desperately they'd been around when I was growing up!
Anyway, I really enjoyed learning how Nick and Tesla's crazy summer began. In this book alone, they have to contend with a mad scientist uncle, a house with bare cupboards, mystery surrounding their parents sudden departure, and...oh yes, a haunted house.(show spoiler)
The twins are great characters and I loved being introduced to them. While both are very intelligent, Tesla is more of a charge in where angels fear to tread person; particularly in this book where it's the first time they've even done anything like this. Her brother, Nick, on the other hand, is a bit more cautious. While I fear some readers might see him as almost scared or timid, I certainly don't; I found him prudent and level headed. Both sides were needed to accomplish their tasks with guts and (somewhat) safety. Their banter back and forth is fun and some of the writing itself makes me laugh out loud.
"To Nick, he seemed like the sort of person you could hang signs on:
BEWARE OF PSYCHO."
Their Uncle Newt, who at best can be called eccentric, is fun to read but I find him in this book a bit too much as the children's guardian. While they are highly intelligent, even they know they need parental supervision...and they can see they aren't going to get it. In Uncle Newt's defense, he does try and takes time to listen to them, but he just doesn't have the knowledge or training for this kind of challenge.
Their two friends (they become friends during this book) are not as well filled out as I would have liked but they don't really come into the book completely until late in the plot. I know they get a bit more fleshed out later.
The plot was fun and quite solid. I'll confess though, the book suffers a bit from Introduction Syndrome. The 'mystery' was okay and there were some things you could speculate on, but there were no real 'clues' at least not enough to give it a good try. There was simply too much for us to learn, too many people to meet, and too much up in the air with no foundation for the reader to do more then hang on and learn as you go. The DIY experiments however, where in a word, awesome. I'm dying to try out the bottle rocket and launcher and the electromagnet was uncomplicated enough that I could have easily done it (and that's saying something!). These would be great projects for a class or a family to do.
Altogether, this was a fun ride, and I've already started the next one. I'll leave you with one of the funniest parts and also great words of wisdom:
"Hey," Nick said. "You can't play the five of spades on the six of clubs."
"Someone who'd cheat at solitaire is capable of anything," Tesla said ominously.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher; the opinions are my own.