Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Dot Robot: Atomic Storm by Jason Bradbury

January 2010, Puffin
284 pages, Paperback
Review Copy

Children's, 9+

Cushions: 2
Daggers: 2-3
Smiles: 4
Nayuleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥

Summary from Puffin

Twelve year-old Jackson Farley is a digital genius. On a robotics scholarship at a high-tec American university, he's having the time of his life - but then an explosion at the nuclear reactor on campus changes everything. Jackson and his fellow gamers are highly suspicious - the attack bears the hallmark of maniacal dot.com billionaire Devlin Lear and his rogue robots. And it appears to be part of a terrifying multimillion dollar master plan.

But Jackson can't believe Lear is behind the sinister dealings. Devlin Lear is dead. Isn't he?

The book blurb varies slightly - Jackson is thirteen years old rather than twelve. From this, I had expected that the nuclear reactor's explosion would happen relatively early on in the story. It took rather a long time to happen! All that happened prior to it was very interesting and really built up the tension. As a fictional explosion loving reader, I'd just wanted to see it sooner.

I haven't read the first book in the series Dot Robot, but this didn't detract from my enjoyment. I felt like I knew Jackson really well by the end of the first chapter. His life at MIT sounds exciting. Although he is far from home (his father is back in England), the privileges he has for being a genius keep him distracted from homesickness. After all, he gets to play with robots most of the time! He does have a few classes to attend, but his skill with robots means that those classes are few and far between. He gets to hang around with an equally gifted Brooke, whose father helps fund the extremely expensive hobby.

It's not really a hobby when Brooke helps save a life with the help of Jackson and the robots. The way the robots interact with each other and their human controllers brought about a lot of smiles. It shows what the future could hold for us. I liked how the darker side of using robots was revealed with the nuclear reactor incident. It drives home the point that an object can be used for good or evil purposes, it all depends on who is near the activation button.

There were several twists in the tale which I didn't see coming. The way Jackson reacts to these changes is realistic - as are Brooke's'. Although Jackson had the limelight, I liked the spunky Brooke who sometimes (or often) reacted without thinking things through. Jackson counterbalances her spontaneous nature, although I think they both learn something from each other.

Father-child relationships are explored in the story, with both Jackson and Brooke learning valuable lessons from their fathers. Having this type of relationship added depth and realism to the main plot: Jackson and Brooke may be cleverer than the average person and have to contend with opposition from evil Devlin's legacy, but at the end of the day they are still children who have the same issues with the parents that other children have.

Content warning: robots versus a shark! No, there isn't really any inappropriate content. It's full of suspense and a lot of humour.

Jason Bradbury can be found on his technicolour website.

If you liked this, check out  Crocodile Tears by Anthony Horowitz

No comments: