An enterprising young inventor goes to extraordinary lengths to rescue his kidnapped brother.
With a little luck, some duct tape, mirrors, a laser pointer and an iPod, fifth-grader Alex Trumble is going to turn back the clock and save his brother, who seems to have literally disappeared into thin air along with his kidnappers. Fortunately, Alex is a genius obsessed with breaking the time barrier and seriously well read on the subject. His brother’s kidnapping is the catalyst that propels Alex into action. Failure is not an option. In his first novel for children, Cohen sets the stage for a rollicking time-travel adventure, but in the end, much like Alex’s first few attempts at building a time machine, the story falls flat. Though there are a few suspenseful moments, as when thugs Carl and Little Davy corner Alex and question him about the whereabouts of the “dingus,” they are too few and far between. The third-person narration gets bogged down in the logistics of time travel and time-machine construction, leaving readers distanced from the fear and emotion that drive Alex. Additionally, in the absence of a ransom or a glimpse of his conditions in captivity, it’s difficult for readers to work up a sense of urgency about Steven’s kidnapping.
This emotional disconnect makes Alex's adventure a little less than amazing. (Science fiction. 8-12)