From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10–Modo is back with more bizarre shape-shifting, daring espionage, and exciting steampunk adventures. Mr. Socrates's agents have been following the exploits of a French spy named Colette Chiyoko Brunet when she disappears unexpectedly. Modo and his partner from the first book, Octavia, are ordered to pose as husband and wife in order to investigate something referred to in Colette's documents as the Ictíneo, or “new fish.” They suspect that this may be a new kind of boat, or mechanical narwhal designed to sink ships. What they don't realize is that someone very dangerous is also on its trail. Modo and Octavia's journey will lead Modo to the depths of the ocean and straight into another conflict with the Clockwork Guild. Modo is an innocent character who is easily teased and is very honorable. His tentative affection for the streetwise and reckless Octavia is touching, but, like Modo, readers aren't sure that she can be trusted with his greatest secret: the deformity of his real face. In this book, readers begin to see that there is more to the stoic Mr. Socrates than was originally revealed. The only problem with the characterization is that the “bad guys” are simply evil, with little nuance of character. On the surface, this is a simple Victorian adventure that will be accessible to lower-level readers. However, there are allusions and references to some of great classic authors that will allow this novel to be an exciting read for those who want to mine more from its depths.–Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Shape-modifying Modo’s second round of adventures require him, at the age of 14, to pretend to be married to another British spy and also throw him into the confines of a submarine—with a beautiful and wily French spy. In this sophomore volume of the steampunk Hunchback Assignments series, which riffs off of Victor Hugo (yes, Modo is the titular hunchback), the pacing and plotting are as tight and engaging as in the opener. Slade does an excellent job of catching new readers up to speed without pedantic reportage that would bore those who have already read the first volume. Grades 8-10. --Francisca Goldsmith