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The Big Chunk of Ice: The Last Known Adventure of the Mad Scientists' Club (Mad Scientist Club) Hardcover – Illustrated, November 1, 2005
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"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
For the first time in paperback, from Dean Koontz, the master of suspense, comes an epic thriller about a terrifying killer and the singular compassion it will take to defeat him. | Learn more
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From the Publisher
- Grade Level : 3 - 4
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Hardcover : 280 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1930900295
- ISBN-13 : 978-1930900295
- Product Dimensions : 6.4 x 1.09 x 8.56 inches
- Reading level : 8 - 12 years
- Publisher : Purple House Press; Illustrated Edition (November 1, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #886,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Now comes "The Big Chunk of Ice", which I do like much better than "The Big Ker-Plop!", though not as much as the short story collections. The good news is that it's fun and it's packed with action. Some reviewers on Amazon have complained that the boys don't do enough-- really? Relatively early in the book a couple of the boys are rappelling into a crevasse in the glacier, when an avalanche happens (caused by their enemies?), a teenage girl falls into their laps, and they're buried under the snow. That's not enough action for you? We also have a trip across the Atlantic in a blimp, a mysterious castle in the Alps, secret passages, suspicious characters, and possible ghosts. So, lots of action.
Also, the scientific techniques and equipment in the story are remarkably accurate and plausible-- in this case, mostly realistic descriptions of how to measure the dynamics of glacial flow.
But the bad news is that some characters are completely implausible-- fun maybe, but totally unrealistic as people. The biggest example is of course the cartoonish Prof. Stratavarious, who organizes the expedition to the glacier, and (as other reviewers have pointed out) who talks like a Sid Caesar character (fake accent from the imaginary country "Rumania"). In fact he IS a fun character, but totally unbelievable as a real scientist, or real person. He gives a speech about his version of the "scientific method", in which the main principle is: throw out the data points that don't fit your hypothesis! It's actually funny as hell-- I am a real scientist (due to the influence of the Mad Scientist's Club books) and one day I'll use that quote in one of my presentations!-- but even a very bad scientist would not actually talk like he does.
The problem is that he and a couple other joke characters in "Big Chunk" partially spoil the realistic style we're used to from the MSC books. So on the one hand, the reader gets the very plausible, scientifically accurate descriptions of scientific methods, while on the other hand the reader gets a few cartoonish joke characters who seem to have been beamed in from another book altogether.
Besides Prof. Statavarious, another completely implausible character is Axel, an ugly, strange dwarf who is the caretaker of a medieval castle-- he also doesn't fit the "realistic" MSC style; I didn't believe him for a minute.
The boys also meet a couple of teenage girl students of the Professor, who are a given the ridiculous names of Angela Angelino and Angelina Angelo-- which only underscores the author's problems with making them individuals. In fact, the two girls are not exactly identical. Despite what some reviewers have written, only Angelina (I think), not both of them, speaks in Beatnik slang. I don't find the Beatnik hep-cat slang to be "dated" as some reviewers say-- I found it kind of quaint, in a Dobie Gillis/Maynard G. Krebs kind of way. It also appears Angelina likes Charlie more.
Consider that Prof. Stratavarious takes the boys across the Atlantic ocean in a blimp. I have mixed feelings about that: the blimp ride is fun, but is it really believable? The author describes the blimp in detail to make it physically plausible-- but would a sane adult really take a bunch of children on a 3-day trip in such a dangerous vehicle?
The resolution of the final mystery is also a little bit of a let-down. Despite the flaws, I still give this book four stars because the parts that weren't plausible were fun anyway, the science was accurate enough, and it did make me laugh several times. If you are choosing between this and "The Big Ker-plop!", get this.
Having said all that, if you've read the first three books, it's worth your while to follow up with this last one.