HMH Books for Young Readers (October 7, 2014)
E ARC from Netgalley.com
George Gearing lives with his uncle, who owns a junkyard and repairs machines, because his parents have died in an accident. George is a wiz at making and repairing robots, but doesn't have a lot of money for equipment. His favorite robot is Jackbot, who might be a bit rickety, but is his best friend. When he has a run in with Ann Droid, whose father runs TinkerTech Laboratories, the biggest robotic manufacturer around, she lets him use her father's workshop to repair Jackbot. Having access to decent parts leads George to rennovating Jackbot to the point where he develops artificial intelligence, and results in him repairing the other household robots so they no longer malfunction. Soon, however, Jackbot is kidnapped, and George teams up with Ann to find out what has happened. They come across an evil plot by Dr. Micron, a scientist at TinkerTech, who wants to roll out a line of robots that will take over the whole world. Not to spoil things, but considering there is to be a sequel I feel safe in saying that George is victorious, lands an internship at TinkerTech, and will go on to solve the mystery of some family secrets.
Strengths: Robots seem to be an up and coming thing, and this book hits a lot of things that readers will like. There is adventure and action, but also a robotic dump truck gone amok, which of course results in garbage being dumped on people. I liked both George and Ann, and the fact that they get to single handedly resolve a problem where a mad scientist is trying to take over the world will make this popular with young readers.
Weaknesses: I am not a fan of goofy names, and this stretched the point with Principal Qwerty, Officer Dongle, etc. Given the fact that there are lots of illustrations, I would have liked it if this looked a tiny more futuristic than it was.