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SOUND BENDER by Lin Oliver


by Lin Oliver & Theo Baker

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-545-19692-5
Publisher: Scholastic

A young adolescent boy discovers secret, amazing powers.

Thirteen-year-old Leo Lomax and his brother Hollis have barely had time to absorb the fact that their parents have been lost in a plane crash when they are swept away from the only home they’ve ever known. Their step-uncle Crane installs them in his combination resident/warehouse in a bleak area of Brooklyn. The warehouse is chock full of what Uncle Crane considers valuable antiquities and artifacts, but Leo finds one that can’t be either: a helmet that looks—and more importantly sounds—both painful and dangerous. Leo discovers that he is, in fact, a Sound Bender, someone who can actually hear the past just by touching an object. This leads him and his best friend Trevor on a quest halfway around the world to stop Crane from selling the helmet to the Russians and to free whoever has been trapped by this dastardly device. Although it has an interesting coming-of-age premise, this book is often confusing, with too many undeveloped threads and promising characters who rarely come to life. Leo’s first-person narration too often tells instead of shows ("It wasn't surprising with everything that I'd been through lately, but I couldn't believe I forgot my own birthday"), which contributes to the overall flatness of the story.

Ultimately, readers will feel this has all been done before. (Science fiction. 10-14)