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Eleven-year-old Reuben spends his days exploring, hiding, and practicing parkour among the abandoned buildings of the Lower Downs as a way to escape the rough times that have befallen him and his mom–but his discovery of an extraordinary antique pocket watch changes everything. When Reuben finds that the watch has the power to turn him invisible, he’s propelled on the adventure of a lifetime.
Now Reuben is being pursued by a group of dangerous men called the Directions, and someone–or something–ominously called The Smoke. They all want the watch, and with the help of new friends, it’s up to Reuben to unravel the mysteries surrounding it and protect the city from evil.
New York Times bestselling author Trenton Lee Stewart’s latest novel will enthrall old and new fans alike with the twists and turns of an inventive and compelling adventure reminiscent of The Mysterious Benedict Society series. (Via Goodreads)
When this book finally appeared at our local library, I snapped it up. I’ve been wanting to read it for ages, but… wow. I wasn’t expecting it to even come close to the glory of the Mysterious Benedict Society, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
Things I loved:
The plot! Trenton Lee Stewart is so good at plot twists. Generally I can predict every twist in the book that I’m reading – but with this one, it actually caught me off guard a couple of times. Fantastic!
The cast of characters was great, as usual. I felt like Rueben, Jack, and Penny were all very unique to the book, and it didn’t feel like it was taking from the Mysterious Benedict Society.
As I got to the end, I couldn’t stop reading. I was completely and totally swallowed into Rueben’s world, and I was living and breathing beside him. It’s not often that a book does that to me. And the end itself was great.
A quick word here about the antagonist… I was surprised that he wasn’t reminiscent of Mr. Curtain from the Mysterious Benedict Society. Instead, he was a villain in his own right, perfect for the story and perfect for Rueben.
Things I didn’t love:
The main issue I had with this book was the lying. Rueben lies to his mother about where he goes during the day while she’s at work, and eventually the lies grow and he’s lying to her about where he is. He tells her he’s at a sleepover, when he’s really off discovering dark secrets and solving mysteries. Although the lying is looked down upon by at least one other main character and a number of minor ones, there are really no consequences for Rueben (spoiler alert!) because his mom is so happy to have him back.
A character takes the Lord’s name in vain twice, I believe. (I may have overlooked other times.)
The length of this book is over 500 pages, which might be a little intimidating for some eleven-year-olds (the age it’s targeted for). However, I think it would be great for more advanced readers.
The only other problem I had with this book was the fact that it starts off slow, and has some lengthy descriptive passages all throughout that could have been done away with, although I think this is just Mr. Stewart’s writing style. It takes a chapter or two to really get into it.
This was another great read by Trenton Lee Stewart, although I didn’t appreciate the excessive lying. My rating is four and a half stars.
Click here to see this review and others on my Goodreads account.