Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch

Book Description:

Hardcover, 339 pages
March 15, 2011, Bancroft Press

One mysterious adventure.
One brilliant adventure.
Five amazing children.

In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, are taken from their lives and from their parents by the mysterious men in black. They take twelve-year-old Jasper and six-year-old Lucy Modest from London, England; nine-year-old Wallace Banneker from New York, United States; twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas from Toronto, Canada; and thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta from New Delhi, India, depositing them all at a strange, isolated farmhouse in Dayton, Ohio, with kindly schoolteacher Miss Brett. But what mysterious invention have all the children, unbeknownst to one another, been working on? Who are the men in black? Are the men in black trying to kidnap them – or protect them? And if they’re trying to protect them – from what?

Source: Bancroft Press & Harrison (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black was an original tale with well-developed, sharp characters. Lucy, Jasper, Wallace, Noah and Faye were left alone without warning and without any explanation. It was good to encounter clever characters that were far from average children. They stood out, knew that they were different and accepted it.

Written well with attention to detail, the story unfolded slowly. For once, I liked how the author took her time. I am used to fast-paced novels and I crave the usual urgency and intensity of a story. But the slow pace of this novel proved to be good. That way, I was able to soak the story in, to pay more attention to the details. Although sometimes I found the story dragging, I was highly interested in reading about the family life and school life of each character. I got to know them really well. I sympathized and felt for them. Being the kids of scientifically focused parents was far from easy. They craved more time with their parents, attention and most of all, love. Each one of them had their own issues to deal with at home and at school. Being young and brilliant had a price.

The mysterious men in black were truly very mysterious. They wore a range of black clothes from simple to weird to bizarre. They spoke from one-syllable answers to a confusing jumble of words and sometimes, they didn’t talk at all. They baffled me a lot. It was fun reading about them but the anonymity, the absence of knowledge about their identities drove me mad, hungry for answers. Part of the reason why I kept reading on, aside from enjoying reading about the inventors, was that I wanted to know who they were, if they were part of some kind of scientific society or a group who wanted to abuse scientists and take over the world.

Each one of the main characters has a contribution to the brilliant invention. It was pure genius. While they were working on this and staying at Sole Manner Farm with the lovely Miss Brett, they discussed endlessly about their situation, their parents’ situation and their escape plans. They were worried about their parents and they wanted to try to escape so they could get to them, or if the mysterious men in black were holding them against their will, try to save them no matter how impossible and difficult that was. Their dedication to their work and to their parents was strong. I liked how they wanted to explore the possibilities, work as a team and try to turn these possibilities into reality.

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black is a unique, fun and imaginative debut with outstanding characters. This is perfect for patient readers and readers who love adventures and historical/science novels.



  1. The idea behind this is really intriguing. I'd never heard of it before you mentioned it to me and now after reading your review, my interest is further peaked! Although I'm not exactly what you'd call a... 'patient' person haha, but I surprisingly enjoy being tortured with anticipation in books. Great review!

  2. I do love historical fiction and inventions. This one looks really good. Awesome review Precious!