Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Wells Bequest

This is how it happened-

Me: Hmmmm...this ARC looks really good!  Oh, it's a companion to another book.  Oh well, it should still make sense.
[60 pages in]
Me: Erm...oh wait, I did read the companion.  That explains a lot.

How is it I can remember all the characters and parallels in Stephen King's books over several years, but couldn't remember that I read The Grimm Legacy?  And I liked it!  And it was only two years ago!?


A library!  A library that lets you check out objects!  A library that lets you check out enchanted objects!

That is the premise of The Wells Bequest (and The Grimm Legacy) by Polly Shulman.

Leo comes from a family of scientists, but he's the more creative one.  One day, a six-inch version of himself, along with a girl he's never met, arrives in his bedroom on a tiny time machine.  Mini-Leo instructs him to read The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.  His search for the time machine, and the girl, leads him to the New York Circulating Material Depository.  This fabulous library lends out objects- from fairy tales and classic science fiction novels.  He meets Jaya, the Head Page, and thinks there's something familiar about her.  What follows is an awesome story of history, time travel, adventure...and some amazing inventions.  And a nice little run-in with Nikola Tesla.

I loved this book.  As the humanities person in a family of engineers...I empathized a bit with Leo (though, he's still more mechanically minded than me).  I've also always had a fascination with H.G. Wells- in 3rd grade I picked up a copy of The Time Machine, because it was such a slim book.  It took awhile before I actually understood what was going on.  Then, in 5th grade I did a book report on War of the Worlds- I even created a board game as part of the project!  I remember, I used a "came with the frame" family as people watching the skies...

I love how these fictional inventions of authors like Wells and Verne are made non-fiction...or are they?  There's a very Schrodinger's Cat-esqueness about the whole Materials Repository that I can't think about too much, lest I get a nosebleed.  There are many references to automatons and other early inventions that I now have to look into...like Rossum's Robot.  The writing is smart and fast-paced, and the characters are great!  Especially when having to give something up as collateral, when checking something out from the Special Collection.

Really, if 19th-century literature and The Big Bang Theory had a love-child...this novel would be it.  It's hilarious, smart, scientific and literary.  And just friggin' cool! 

I would recommend this to anyone who likes Wells & Verne, The Big Bang Theory and/or The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  And I'm hoping the next book has to do with Poe and Lovecraft.

The Wells Bequest is published by Nancy Paulsen Books.  Digital ARC provided by NetGalley.
Release Date: 06.13.13 

1 comment:

  1. Oh H.G. Wells Looks cool! I'll have to see if I can purchase it for my library :)