Tesla’s Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

By Ekta R. Garg

March 5, 2014

Rated: Bookmark it!

A teenager moves to a new town after leaving behind a devastating tragedy.  When he starts to settle into his new home, however, he realizes that the house holds a bevy of secrets.  The problem?  He sold most of them in a garage sale, and if he wants his life to go back to normal he’ll have to get those items back.  Authors Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman offer middle grade readers this smart, funny, innovative plot in Tesla’s Attic, Book 1 of The Accelerati Trilogy.

Nick Slate, his younger brother, and his father, a former baseball player, move to Colorado Springs after a terrible fire destroys their home in Florida.  The fire also claimed the life of Nick’s mother, and the family of three spends its days trying to cope with the loss as they also try to adjust to Colorado.  On the day they move into their new house—a home bequeathed to them by the mysterious Great-aunt Greta—Nick pulls down the spring-loaded ladder to the attic and gets smacked in the head by a toaster.  He realizes the toaster belongs to a collection of odd items stored in the attic, and because he knows every penny can help his father (who doesn’t have a job in Colorado yet) Nick suggests a garage sale.

The sale goes well—so well, in fact, that Nick begins to wonder whether something is wrong.  He meets some new friends and they share their weird experiences with the items they bought from him, and Nick’s hunch becomes stronger.  When some mysterious men show up repeatedly asking for the items, Nick knows for sure that the items from the attic don’t just represent a compilation of life’s odds and ends.

Nick and his new friends find out that the items belonged to famed scientist Nikola Tesla.  The teens try to figure out what the items mean and why the men in the suits want them, while they also do their best to stay afloat in the drama that school represents.  In the process they cement their friendships and begin to realize that they’ve embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.

Authors Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman share the writing responsibilities of the book with ease.  They wrote the book in an omniscient point of view (POV,) something that may take some getting used to for most readers.  With the proliferation of young adult literature these days, readers may have become accustomed to hearing stories from inside the main character’s head.  But after the adjustment, readers are in for a real treat.  Shusterman and Elfman take the opportunity of the omniscient POV to chat about matters related to the book, and the result becomes a casual chat between friends.

The fun extends to the chapter titles as well.  Readers would do well to pay attention to them.  But the best moment comes in the big reveal at the end.  No one will see it coming, and its clever insertion will instantly make fans of all readers of Tesla’s Attic.

I highly recommend the book and am already looking forward to the sequels.

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