Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: ARC from Publisher
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The first novel that explores--with dazzling wit and high adventure--the previously undiscovered, astonishing-yet-true connections between Morse Code and ancient Chinese I-Ching hexagrams!
This never-before-seen twist on time travel adventure explores the theme of accepting those who are different--and having the courage to join them. The moment Ambrose Brody steps into a fortune-teller's tent, he is whisked into a quest that spans millennia with his best friend, an enigmatic carnival girl, and an unusual family heirloom that drops them into the middle of the nineteenth century!
The year 1852 is a dangerous time for three non-white children, and they must work together to dodge slave-catchers and save ancestors from certain death--all while figuring out how to get back to the future. Fortunately, they have a guide in the helpful hints embedded in an ancient Chinese text called the I-Ching, which they interpret using Morse Code. But how can a three-thousand-year-old book be sending messages into the future through a code developed in the 1830s? Find out in this mind-bending, time-bending adventure!
I feel so cheated by this book. The title suggested something really fun and quirky and perhaps something that was in the vein of Pseudonymous Bosch (whose books are hilarious and you should totally check them out.) This book wasn't really any of those things though. Some readers will find it hilarious, and there were moments when I laughed but this book just didn’t work for me the way I wanted it to.
The time travel aspects were not believable and given that this book is set in a world resembling ours, I was surprised at how easily the characters believed things without even questioning them. They find a connection between two codes and they are so quick to believe it isn’t a coincidence. I mean one of these codes was SWEET, sweet wasn’t a term used in the specific context they were using it when the code was invented.
I hate conveniences like that and I don’t think a book should be excused for relying on them to explain important parts of the world building just because it is intended for a younger audience. That seems like cheating to me.
I also didn’t really like the characters. Tom was smart but there were times when he would want to do things that put everyone’s life at risk, including his own, because he felt like it. Ambrose was kind of a jerk when the novel started and even though he became better by the end of the novel, his improvement came too late for me. I also didn’t give a flying fart about Frankie.
This all left me with a book I felt very mediocre about. It’s not a bad book; it’s just not the book for me because almost none of the aspects of the book really made me get excited. It’s especially a pity since I think MGs about time travel can be so much fun.