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Comment: Very good copy with moderate cover and page wear from being handled and read. Accessories or dust jacket may be missing. Could be an ex-library copy that will have all the stickers and or marking of the library. Some textual or margin notes possible, and or contain highlighting.
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The Hunchback Assignments Hardcover – September 22, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–10—What do you get when you combine elements of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? You get this exciting steampunk adventure. And though Slade borrows from the classics, the story is original and a fun read. Modo, a young hunchback, is rescued from a traveling freak show by the mysterious Victorian Englishman, Mr. Socrates. He is raised in isolation and trained to master his extraordinary physical powers, which include the ability to alter his deformed features and take on any appearance. When he's 13, Mr. Socrates presses him into service on behalf of the Permanent Association, a secret group dedicated to protecting Great Britain, and the teen is plunged headfirst into a race to prevent the government's destruction. Modo, an innocent who is often shocked by the vulgarities of street life, is paired with fellow agent Octavia Milkweed, a rescued urchin whose street smarts complement his immense physical talents. She is at once a partner, a foil, and a possible love interest. The protagonists are likable, the villains are chilling, and the story is action packed. Forays into the raw effluence of London's sewer system provide just enough "ick" factor. And, Slade gets the Victorian setting just right.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Arthur Slade has published several novels for young readers, including Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival, Megiddo’s Shadow, Tribes, and Dust, which won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. He lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with his wife, Brenda Baker. Visit him on the Web at www.arthurslade.com.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Hunchback Assignments (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books (September 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038573784X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385737845
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Librarian VINE VOICE on September 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Slade's latest YA novel, The Hunchback Assignments, is steampunk-tacular.

Hunchback AssignmentsModo, a disfigured hunchback, is born with a strange gift. He can twist his appearance to mirror any imaginable person. Modo can hide behind the countenance of a prince or pickpocket, if only for a few hours. His true face, the one reflection he avoids at all costs, masks a heroic figure.

The enigmatic Mr. Socrates rescues Modo as an infant and trains him as an agent of a shadowy Victorian era organization. Modo's assignments thrust him into danger at every turn and pitt him against the mechanized villainy of a mad scientist. A monstrous enemy threatens the British Empire, and Modo must use every ounce of wit and skill he possesses to combat the forces of evil.

Modo not only faces physical peril, he also wrestles with his feelings for Octavia, a beautiful and compassionate fellow agent. Although Modo longs to accept Octavia's affection, he finds it impossible to reveal his true face. He dreams of becoming the handsome knight who can win her heart. She longs to know the real man behind the mask.

In the Hunchback Assignments, suspense builds steadily up to the ripping climax. Throughout the story, the audience feels Modo's heartache and witnesses his courage. After the final scene, the reader will be reluctant to leave his side.

Assignments is a satisfying brew infused with crisp writing and high flying action. It reads as though Slade threw the machinations of a 007 caper, the intrigue of a Young Sherlock Holmes adventure, the gothic romance of a Victor Hugo tale, the clever gadgetry of an H.G. Wells yarn, and the thrilling horror of a penny dreadful into a blender and pressed pulse.

Yes, it's that good. Read it.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to admit that I didn't realize this was a children's book when I picked it up, but as a fan of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series (which is definitely not for kids), the book's steampunkish Victorian setting appealed to me. In the early pages, we meet the protagonist, a horribly disfigured young boy who is kept by gypsies as a freak show entertainment. A brisk gentleman named Mr. Socrates purchases him, installs him in a country manor, and keeps him there for 13 years, training him in the arts of espionage and in the control of his special ability. For it seems that the young boy (named Modo) has the ability to shift his physical attributes so that he can impersonate others, and thus Mr. Socrates intends to turn him into a secret agent.

The Victorian British Empire of this book has all manner of nefarious enemies that Mr. Socrates and his top-secret "Permanent Association" work to stymie. In this first adventure in what looks to be a series, the villain is a mad scientist intent on creating hybrid mechanical-organic creatures. After being recruited by the mysterious Clockwork Guild (which is dedicated to destroying the British Empire) he sets about using kidnapped orphans to build a massive mechanized robot creature. Meanwhile, the Guild is also trying to use some combination of drug and hypnosis to turn several unwitting prominent men into assassins. Mr. Socrates sends Modo out to try and thwart some of this, along with another young agent named Octavia. They team up and Modo develops a crush on the intelligent, pretty girl.

Once the initial background is established, the story races along pell-mell, with plenty of action, menace, captures and escapes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a veteran Science Fiction, Fantasy and Steampunk reader who has read everything from Dragonlance, to Robert Jordan, to Tolkien, to Star Wars novels, to Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series...this book stands head and shoulders above the crowd. It may be "junior fiction"...but it's not junior writing. Slade has a great sense of pacing and suspense that keeps the reader engaged. He creates characters you care about and feel for(not just Modo, the protagonist mind you). Even those characters that have their flaws, he engenders(in the reader)a certain respect for. The book had the exciting, mechanical wonders of steampunk while still staying grounded in solid characters and storyline. I couldn't wait to hand this off to my wife so she could enjoy it too. I have to be honest, this is the best book I've read in a decade.
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I will start by saying that this book would have been given four stars save for its inability to describe everything I wanted described in what I assume was an attempt to protect the child market that it was so obviously aimed at. Mr. Slade did a great job bringing London into focus in this novel, and the futuristic "steam-punk" feel was a real bonus that made the book worth the read. I really loved Modo's (the main character's) ability to morph his looks, and his add-on sidekick was an extra bonus I did not expect in the first book of the series. I think my main problem was that the usage of Modo's gift was a bit limited and it seemed almost annoying to use, that and the fact that most every author in existence can only ever think of evolution bestowing superhuman gifts. The idea is so overused. Where's the imagination, people? I understand the reasons (for Modo's limitations, not the evolution excuse), but I personally wanted more. The intended audience of this book is about about 10-12 years of age in my humble opinion because of the happy-go-lucky and/or cover-their-ears kind of attitude it took towards danger and death. Slade seemed hesitant to admit people died save for a few select times (or maybe that's just how it felt). Aside from those two things, I really liked the book.

Overall: It was cute, short, and worth taking a chance on. Liked it, would recommend it, especially if you're a young reader or buying for one.
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