Augustine, Celeste and Oscar have all been accepted to spend a week at the prestigious Quark Academy during the summer holidays. During this week they will be taught by Inventors and work on their own invention. On the final day the children will present their completed invention during a nationally televised Best Invention Competition.
Augustine, whose parents are both scientists, is interested in the weather. Celeste’s interest is in black holes and she has unfinished business with another competitor. Oscar loves science, in particular chemistry, and wants nothing more than for his parents to notice him like they do with his ‘golden child’ big brother, Toby.
The students soon learn that there’s more to Quark Academy than meets the eye and they’re going to have to use their combined skills to solve the mystery and return home at the end of the week.
I loved the ideas during the first half, in particular the extracting DNA from two animals, people or plants with the view to cross-modifying them. The different responses by the various students to the task was really interesting as it gave insight into their personalities. I also appreciated the ethical issues raised surrounding science and inventions – just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.
Unfortunately I found the second half of the book, when all of the action was happening and the unravelling of the mystery, somewhat disappointing. I found myself wanting more quirky science ideas and I wanted to see more of the students working on their inventions. I didn’t have any emotional connection to the characters, the final third felt a little disjointed and the end wrapped up too quickly and neatly for my liking.
Overall this book had potential and I expect the target audience (8 to 12 year olds) will enjoy the fun and the mystery, but as an adult reader that reads a lot of novels aimed at children I wanted more focus on relationship between the students, in particular the other twelve students who for the most part have no role in the book.
I had trouble stopping myself from comparing this book to Jackie Yeager’s Spin the Golden Light Bulb, which I read a few weeks ago and adored. Perhaps if I had read Quark’s Academy first I would have enjoyed it more.
Thank you very much to NetGalley and Hachette Childrens Books, Australia for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
SCIENCE IN PROGRESS – ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Junior science geniuses Augustine, Celeste and Oscar can’t believe their luck when they’re accepted into an elite and mysterious science academy summer camp run by the elusive Inventor Quark.
From the moment they step inside the gates of Quark’s Academy at the end of Molecule Drive, they know they’re in for a week they’ll never forget. But things at the academy are not quite what they seem, and the three quickly realise that they’ll need to put their squabbles aside and their heads together if they’re ever to get out of there alive …