Author: Cathie Pelletier
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
The Summer Experiment is a a middle-grade story but I wonder if kids could ever sit through it. Even I was bored. It’s told in a narration which despite being honest in the beginning soon turned monotonous and took on the tone of a grown-up trying to get right a kid’s voice.
I starts at the moment when poor Roberta, at the most inopportune moment, turns towards her house and misses the strange lights in the sky. And misses it again. Circumstances beget determination, and Roberta sets out to get herself abducted by what she presumes to be aliens. Before that there are mishaps and pranks foiled, and this was the time I had most fun with the characters- as Roberta and her best friend think and plan and grin evilly, also burn with mortification, on their quest to get revenge on her brother and his best friend, on whom Roberta happens to be crushing.
Then grown up matters and their alien world intervene and it’s not a happy union of the two vastly different universes- deaths and parents on dates and runaways ensue. This is where the book becomes monotonous. Roberta’s seems to lose her quirkiness and the haughtiness that make her distinct, and while it is reasonable in the shadow of all that befalls her and her friend, it’s also too radical and washed out to captivate an audience. On the other hand, when it comes to her project, Roberta seems to regain her drive at the very least, so as not to completely alienate the reader from her.
The writing is okay, but sometimes the prose is trippy and too much.
Time crept on like a snail or an inchworm, slow as cold molasses.
I also had a couple of logistical problems with the theme of aliens and everything.
As in, if they could teleport, then why did they bother beaming up Roberta and Marillee, which had the potential for causing unlimited trouble and revealing their existence had someone seen them taking those two up. Moreover, the construction and portrayal of the aliens, rather the robots, was flaccid. On the other hand, I liked that they were robots and not aliens.
I liked the ending, and the reasons for the ending, although it was way too incidental what they discover. All in all, it wasn’t too great a book, nor did it have the most important message to deliver but I did like what it said at the end, even if the ride had been too slow and tedious for my patience.
Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Jabberwocky!