Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Edison's Alley (The Accelerati Trilogy #2) by Neal Shusterman (Goodreads Author), Eric Elfman (Goodreads Author)

I seem to like sequels more when new characters are introduced. I have gotten so familiar with the previous characters that I find myself less interested in them unless they are going through an interesting emotional change. This sequel's main character did have an emotional arc but it wasn't as powerful as in book one. The plot kept me going with its wacky situations and weird, twisty ending. Don't read book two unless you have read book one to get the complete backstory and historical facts on Nikola Tesla. It is not going to make a whole lot of sense otherwise.

Fourteen-year-old Nick moved into a Victorian house in book one that his dad inherited. Nick chooses the attic for his bedroom but finds it is full of junk. He sells it off only to discover that the junk-like pieces fit together creating a Far Range Energy Emitter, a Nikola Tesla invention meant to bring free wireless electrical energy to people. Each piece has its own unique properties. A weight machine is an antigravity conductor. A bellows can create wind vortexes. A camera lens allows the user to look into the future. The inventions are more magical than scientific, so prepare to go with the flow and not look too closely at the inventions' unbelievable parts. A secret society called, The Accelerati, wants the unique items and will kill to get them. The race to see who retrieves them first is on. Team Nick is winning until an obstacle appears that looks like everyone will lose. Humor and fast-paced action make this a page-turner.

In book one, Nick's dad helped saved the world by keeping an asteroid from hitting Earth. Now that asteroid is causing a dangerous build-up of electromagnetic energy and Nick knows that he has to rebuild the Far Range Energy Emitter to stop it from destroying Earth. With the help of Mitch, Caitlin, Vince, and Petula, the teenagers race to recover all the items from the garage sale that were sold before the asteroid zaps Earth. They must outwit the Accelerati that keep getting in the way as they want the pieces for their own profit.

Each time the teens try to recover a piece, they face a wacky situation and problem that they must solve. The unpredictability and silliness of these issues was fun at first but in the middle I got a little tired of it. The emotional changes involve Caitlin and Nick's romance. Nick wants to be more than friends with her and she still has a boyfriend she hasn't broken up with. Nick carries a load of guilt over the death of his mother and forces he's unleashed discovering Tesla's inventions. Mitch is still angry over his dad's incarceration. Vince seems to be pulling away from the group learning to deal with living as an undead person. And Petula is still the same self-absorbed egomaniac from book one. None of the character changes are that complex or in-depth and they continue the arcs from book one. The authors do a good job explaining character motivations, revealing their flaws, and adding humor.

In real life Nikola Tesla was an inventor and engineer who worked for Thomas Edison's company at one time. Edison told Tesla to fix his direct current generators and he'd give him $50,000. Tesla did and asked for the money to which Edison said he was joking. He gave him a raise instead, but Tesla quit and started his own rival company. Tesla worked on a project to create wireless electricity and this book focuses mainly on that invention making Edison, represented by the Accelerati group he formed, the villain and Tesla the unsung hero. Tesla was screwed by his own company as well in real life and lost many patents. He had over 300 patents in his lifetime. 

The villain is deadly yet buffoonish which makes it hard to be really frightened by him. The ending is a cliff-hanger but wraps up the story nicely. I appreciate an author that concludes the story rather than just cutting it off in the middle of the action which happens in many cliff-hangers. The " be continued" endings drive me a bit crazy. This doesn't do that. If you liked book one then you'll enjoy this one. The pacing is good and the ending has a terrific twist.

3 Smileys

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