There are rumors that a hunchback infant in a gypsy freakshow has the power to transform his appearance. This comes to the attention of Mr. Socrates, a member of the shadowy Permanent Association, who decides to take the boy back to england and raise him for his own purposes. Naming him Modo, Mr. Socrates keeps the boy indoors and never lets him see his deformity, while putting him through training to be a secret agent. When Modo turns 14, his education is complete. He is handed a mirror and confronts his image for the first time, horrified. Then, he is taken to foggy, polluted London and abandoned, penniless, to test his skills.
But Modo is resourceful, and he finds a way to get by, keeping to himself… until one day, when the beautiful Octavia Milkweed knocks on his door. soon, with the help of Mr. Socrates, they find themselves uncovering a sinister plot being carried out in the very sewers beneath their feet. Will they be able to stop the mad scientist Dr. Hyde and his even more terrifying associates before they unleash their monstrous plans upon unsuspecting Londoners?The start of a fantastic series, in the hot new genre of steampunk, The Hunchback Assignments takes readers into the sewers and alleyways of an alternative Victorian London, in an unputdownable adventure.
Last year I had the chance to read an ARC of Arthur Slade's Jolted. It was so fun and I finished it shocked that I have never read him before. Actually, if it wasn't for the wonderful Rachel I might not have read him then and I would've been missing out! But, she wrote a wonderful review and one thing lead to another. I have to say that Rachel has never steered me wrong. When she says to read something, you should just read it. I know that I do! Anyway, she warned me that this book wasn't as good as Jolted, and she was right, but it still had merit. I wish it wasn't a series because I really don't need to read anymore series, but since it is Arthur Slade and he is Canadian, I am going to just deal with it.
The Hunchback Assignments is a young adult book with a very interesting cover. I can't decide if I like it or not! It's fun, though, and when I received it in the mail the other day I was actually pretty excited to figure out who all the characters on the cover were. The main character is essentially Modo, but there are a lot of secondary characters that play a key role as well. Frankly, if this was not following up Jolted I would probably have loved the book a lot more, but I couldn't help comparing it to my first read by him and having it not measure up. It is still a novel with an interesting storyline, though, that kept me turing the pages. Modo didn't really grow on me was one of the problems. I liked him, but I didn't feel like I really knew him. I imagine that he will be growing throughout the series and that we haven't seen the last of him!
My favourite thing about Modo was his love of books. For about 13 years of his life, he lived in the written world. For us that are always saying that we never have enough time to read, Modo has more than enough time. To think how many wonderful books he read in that time frame! Not that I would want to be him, exactly, though. Modo was abandoned by his family at an orphanage and then sold to a traveling freakshow. He has the ability to transform his shape, which was actually a very interesting story addition. When Mr. Socrates (great name, huh) finds out about him he sets out to rescue him and begin his education. It is save to say that he does not have a normal childhood!
I also want to mention how much I enjoyed the names in this book. Like I mentioned above, there is Socrates. Then, one of Modo's work associates is Octavia, which is the name of Octavian's sister from Roman history. The 'bad guys' name is Cornelius Hyde. It could be really bad, but it works for the story. By their names, actually, you can figure out a bit about the characters before they are even really developed. I look forward to more from them in future books! I will conclude with saying this was another fun book from Arthur Slade! I would say that I like Jolted better, but really, they are very different books so it actually makes it hard to compare!
Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for my review copy of this book!