From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 6-9 - This adult author's hilarious, dark Northern Irish wit, penchant for action-packed mayhem, sense of irony, and snappy dialogue are all evident in this first of a planned trilogy for children. Eddie Malone, 12, and his mother have just moved to the roughest, toughest part of Belfast, a housing project "run" by a gang of street urchins who call themselves the Reservoir Pups. Eddie unintentionally gets mixed up with them and rashly agrees to break into the hospital where his mother works and steal the security codes. In the process, he overhears a kidnapping plot. After some misunderstandings, he realizes that the scheme involves stealing a dozen babies from the hospital. The pace of the plot is frenetic as Eddie hooks up with Mo, a girl from the rival gang. The story takes a deliciously gruesome turn as the two of them find the babies inside a hollowed out mountain where a team of underground scientists conduct experiments all aimed at keeping Ireland's richest woman young. After a madcap chase and narrow misses, the infants are rescued and Eddie and Mo are national heroes. It is no surprise that Bateman is a scriptwriter for television and movies as this outrageously comic caper reads like a film, rapidly moving from cliff-hanger to cliff-hanger. Readers will get caught up in the swiftness of the action and in the intriguing turns of the baby-napping plot and the sci-fi twist. But mostly they will identify with the appealing Eddie, whose intentions are good but who bungles everything yet still lands on his feet. - Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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Gr. 4-7. Eddie, 12, is no hero; he is scared stiff of the rough gang kids on his housing estate in Belfast. He hopes they will accept him if he can hack into the hospital computer. He fails. The plot is all wild contrivance (he hides in the hospital mortuary and stumbles upon a plot to kidnap a dozen newborns), but there is real surprise as the action twists and turns at breakneck speed. Just when it seems things can't get any worse, they do. The talk between Eddie and his sidekick, Mo, an albino girl, is hilarious, and the physically disabled characters who appear in the story--including the legless gang leader and a group of brave survivors of monstrous experiments--are drawn without sentimentality. They are sometimes tough, sometimes mean, sometimes heroic. The corrupt adult authorities are gross and gory beneath their smooth public images, but, of course, Eddie succeeds--for now. The first of a trilogy, this novel by a popular British author of adult books will leave readers anxious for more. Hazel Rochman
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