Posted by Venus on Monday, August 4, 2014
Labels: intermediate book review
Illustrations by Sarah Watts
Publisher: Tricycle Press
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Aaron and Josh have moved into a new house, one in which every floor in the house is tilted three degrees...on purpose. The walls are covered in scientific drawings. Then things start to get strange. Talking rats with a coin collection, a dimmer switch that makes the entire house invisible, two undertakers with a list that is getting people killed, and a body buried in the basement.
I am on a bit of a catch-up reading phase, meaning I am finally getting around to reading books that have been on my to-read list for quite some time. As you can tell by the release date of this book, I am rather behind.
This is one of those books that I enjoyed while reading it, but had some serious issues with once completed. Written in vignette-like scenes, there was a very loose plot that meandered as the children discovered various things. Most of these things had to do with the house and the story and some, like the weird undertakers and rude next-door neighbor, did not. What was never made clear was whether the various things happening in the story were simply science or whether they were magic. I would have leaned toward science, but then there are the undertakers who have this list that lets them know if people will be dying. I also started leaning toward magic because the reaction of the father and his sons when the rats begin to speak is rather tame in a world where rats aren't supposed to talk. Never mind that the father rather horrifically murders the rat's son and barely apologizes for it. In fact, I got the distinct impression that the father didn't really care that he killed this talking rat's child, which made him instantly unlikeable.
This was such an interesting setting with some very interesting minor characters (the children themselves were rather boring) and I think the author could have done so much more. I wanted to know more about the undertakers and their list. How and why did they have it? What did it mean? I wanted to get to know the rats more and thought it was almost ridiculous that they "bought" the Duplex next door. How is that even possible? Not even talking rats would be allowed to sign legal documents. Why couldn't they have stayed in the attic? And why does the mother never meet them? I wanted to know more about the house and the other secrets it supposedly held. I wanted all the little things that happened throughout the book to tie together, rather than just one of the storylines. I wanted more story and would have been willing to read another hundred pages if only we would have gotten down to the nitty gritty about the house and if the author would have just made up his mind as to whether this was a story with magic or one about science.