The coffee maker was more than it appeared to be. No ordinary coffee pot, for instance, delivers messages like this:
I AM BLOCKING SURVEILLANCE
AND TRACKING FOR NOW
BUT SOON THEY WILL FIND YOU
TAKE THE PROTOCOL CUBE
But the coffee maker that 13-year old Doug meets in the top secret government facility where his aunt worked isn't ordinary. Nor is the refrigerator, or the skunks, and the scientists weren't working on any ordinary weapons...
I was predisposed in favor of The Rendering, by Joel Naftali (Egmont, 2011, middle grade) before I even picked it up to read, because my 10 year old boy got a hold of it before I did, and for the next few hours was deaf to the world. So from the get go, I knew that Naftali was writing straight to his target audience.
And indeed, The Rendering reads very much like the feverish computer-game-dreams of a ten or eleven year old.
Doug, an ordinary boy, finds himself trapped in a maelstrom of science running amok. Unimaginable technology (the sort that transforms skunks into computer-enhanced super heroes) has been seized by a renegade, power-hungry mad man who wants to remake the world to his own computer-controlled specifications. Fortunately for Doug, the skunks are on his side. And so his his aunt, despite not having a body anymore, and so is Jamie, the really smart girl who's his best buddy....so all hope is not lost. Even though everyone is his town has been, um, removed from their corporeal existence, and digitized.
The Rendering, told in the form of Doug's blog entries, moves swiftly from hectic moment to even more hectic moment. Young readers will appreciate the short swift sentences, and the cascade of adventure. Unless they are overwhelmed by the weirdness of it all, they will chuckle at the cyberskunks, and thrill to the tension of Doug and Jamie's desperate efforts to foil the bad guy and his cyber-enhanced henchman.
It's not a book for everyone. It will probably be a tad overwhelming for the reader who prefers more meditative stories, and not every young reader will find the oddness of it appealing (alas, my own son was one of these, and put the book down when the skunks showed up), and the characterization is very much of the "tell don't show" variety.
But for kids who like fast page-turners of technologically driven insanity/death-defying adventure, this should be a winner right to the end (and end which, incidentally, leaves lots of room for sequels to come).
Here are other reviews, at Sci-Fi Fan Letter, Lisa and Laura Write, and Gelati's Scoop.
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)