From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up–Set in 1939 Denmark, this story uses the same alternative history device as Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan (S & S, 2009), but it doesn't work here. Instead, the book is a confusing mishmash of characters with the history and science not fully explored. It is a novel more of explanation than action. Sixteen-year-old Sophie, an orphan living at a scientific facility operated by Niels Bohr, has been smuggled out of Scotland for her own safety. She's hoping to speak to Alfred Nobel about the death of her parents. After a gas and pellet attack at Bohr's birthday party and the subsequent invasion of Denmark, Sophie, her friend Mikael (undergoing some strange personality changes due to the gas), and a few of the scientists from the institute evacuate to Sweden where they stay in the same boarding house as Mikael's brother. After a rather surreal meeting with Nobel, during which she finds out that her father had successfully designed the atomic bomb, she gets confirmation that she is Nobel's granddaughter and heir. She is sent on a long journey to negotiate plans for the weapon, and to rescue Mikael, who has been hypnotized into following Elsa Blix, a weapons dealer and also an illegitimate child of Nobel's who only wants recognition of her paternity. Few readers will stick with Invisible Things to its unsatisfying and rather sudden conclusion.–Suanne Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FLα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
In this sequel to the 1938 alternate-history The Explosionist (2008), 16-year-old orphan Sophie lives in Copenhagen at the Institute of Theoretical Physics. There, she is in the presence of invisible things at all times: experiments in nuclear fission, secrets surrounding her heritage, mysterious personality-changing explosives, and perhaps even love. As the threat of war approaches, Sophie and Mikael travel to Stockholm, where a changed Mikael meets with a dangerous figure from Sophie’s past, and Sophie embarks on a dangerous trek to find him. This is an odd assemblage of mystery, history—sometimes factual, sometimes invented—and a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen.” The complexities of the plot, coupled with the language teetering between lush and verbose, make this inventive novel a niche selection for curious readers. Grades 9-12. --Heather Booth
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