Hidden under a small suburban town, the Inventory is a collection of the most incredible technology the world has NEVER seen: invisible camouflage, HoverBoots, indestructible metals, and the deadly war robot Iron Fist. Dev's uncle, Charles Parker, is the inventory's mild-mannered curator, with security provided by Eema, a beyond-state-of-the-art artificial intelligence system.
But security is catastrophically breached when Lot and Mason from school turn up unexpectedly and, hot on their heels, a ruthless gang of thieves working for the Collector and the Shadow Helix organisation. If the thieves succeed in their goal to seize the Iron Fist, Dev, his friends, and the world are in a whole heap of trouble.
This is a book for every kid (young or old) who ever grew up surrounded by Sci-Fi books and movies, and dreamed of one day becoming an inventor of weird and wonderful technology. Mr 11 and I read it simultaneously, with some arguments as one of us invariably had the book when the other wanted to continue reading. Had he been younger, I could have read it to him, but he is of the age where he does his own reading, thank you very much!
However this did bring home to me just how gripping the story is. Although it is complete fantasy on one level, dealing as it does with the story of a boy whose improbable lifestyle could not be more different from that of a normal child, it also addresses the real life problems of dysfunctional family relationships, school yard bullies, friendship issues, and peer pressure to conform. When Dev does set out on his big adventure, he is accidentally teamed up with two unlikely youngsters - Lot and Mason - and discovers that, to his amazement, they can become good friends in the process.
The day before I started reading the book, I visited an art exhibition where the word "synaesthesia" was highlighted in terms of one artist's working style. It was interesting, therefore, that the same term was used with reference to Dev's abilities as it is one I have not often encountered in literature. This is, in fact, a skill that many people possess without even realising it: the unconscious tendency to link ideas to another sensation. They can see things in terms of colour or sound (among other possibilities), and this helps them to remember things more readily. Dev is able to sense how things work just by touching them and "feeling" what is happening inside them. I liked the way that he explained how this worked when Lot was puzzled; the explanation was simple enough for Mr 11 to grasp immediately.
The sheer number of gadgets and unlikely inventions described in the course of the story was more than unreal - it certainly made both me and Mr 11 want to visit the Inventory for ourselves so we could play with some of them and test them out. You are never too old for hi-tech toys, and some of them were described in such detail that it was fairly clear that they had been well researched. Others, I suspect, were pure invention - but there was a fine line between "real" and "possible", and some gadgets may have been a combination of both.
Both Mr 11 and I are hoping there will be a sequel in the near future. The book content is so rich that it would be a shame to not develop it further. We will be looking out for a follow-up to Dev's story with anticipation, and also following the development of the relationship with his unlikely team, Lot and Mason. Both of us thoroughly enjoyed reading the story and discussing it afterwards - a great way for family members to bond!
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"Computer games don't affect kids. I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."
Kristian Wilson, Nintendo, Inc, 1989