Fires of Invention by Scott J. Savage
This middle-grade reader is everything you’d expect it to be…which is both good and bad.
It’s quickly paced with lots of interesting activities undertaken by the protagonist (a boy) and his inventive friend (a girl). While the author earns kudos for giving equal the mechanical abilities to the girl along with a heaping serving of intelligence, it’s odd that she isn’t the main character. She is the one who creates the mechanical dragon that will free their society from their imprisonment (both physical imprisonment underground and their society’s imprisonment to a government that lies to them about why they’re underground)…so why isn’t she the main character?
The boy spends a lot of time ducking his parents and other adults who might cause trouble. But other than that, he isn’t the primary active party here. The book therefore seems to move in fits and starts. Readers miss out on a lot of what goes into building the mechanical dragon, and instead have to follow the boy around during his days while he thinks about things. And we all know what happens to a reader’s interest when the characters start thinking about things and stop doing things.
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