Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Simon Bloom: The Octopus Effect

Simon Bloom: The Octopus Effect
by Michael Reisman
Recommended Ages: 12+

In the first book of the Simon Bloom trilogy, The Gravity Keeper, a boy from a New Jersey middle school becomes the keeper of the Teachers Guide to Physics, a book that controls the laws of space and time. It's a heavy responsibility for a kid, but he earns it by putting a stop to the villainous Sirabetta, who plans to seize all power in the universe by having key formulas inked on her skin. Sounds like cheating on an exam, right? Well, cheating is the least of her vices, but Simon dealt with her by turning her into a teenager (a horrible fate). Only, now she's back, and she has a team of traitors within the Order of Biology helping her out.

Together with his friends Owen and Alysha, plus some other allies (including the book's Narrator, who takes a whimsically personal interest in what's going on), Simon sets off in pursuit. Each time the two sides meet, a battle breaks out in which people fling powers derived from nature at each other – like the trio's mastery of gravity, friction and velocity, or the Octopus Powers they gain along the way. The result is some weird combat, with the outcome in doubt until the end.

Book 2 of the trilogy, this book is followed by Simon Bloom: The Order of Chaos. Since all three books came out over a three-year period about a decade ago, I guess they're all there is to the series. It's an interesting brew, bringing some of the off-the-wall goofiness of Lemony Snicket to a more mature audience, with lots of educational details sneaking in under the cover of fantasy action and cosmic danger. The large cast of characters seems unwieldy at times, and the book might perhaps suffer from just an eensy-weensy case of middle-of-a-trilogy-itis. However, it probably helps to read the books closer together than I have. Meantime, the author's bio claims that he gets paid for writing book reports. I would totally go for a job like that.

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