[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
One of my favourite themes being in here, I still enjoyed the story for that aspect, but I admit that otherwise, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I expected to.
While it definitely deals with cool concepts (the aloof, badass grandpa; the robots; the mysterious men wanting Alex’s just as mysterious robot; their magic, both awesome and gruesome), plot-wise the story was also completely over the place. In a way, it reminded me precisely of the way I envisioned stories myself when I was a young reader: “Something mysterious! A bully! School woes! Something else happens! Grandpa arrives! Mum is not happy with him! Something else happens! Let’s run away!” And so on. So perhaps this would appeal to a 10-year old audience? I’m not entirely sure either. (To be clear, it’s not the fast pace itself I found problematic—such a pace can be very powerful indeed—but the disjointed way in which it was handled.)
“Monstrous Devices” also contains a very specific pet peeve of mine, a.k.a “I’m not telling you anything because for some reason, I think it will protect you, yet I completely fail to see that it actually endangers you more.” I don’t know why this trope is so prevalent. Just talk to your kids, people, they’re not stupid, and if you think it’s OK to take them traipsing all over Europe while pursued by murderous robots, then why not equip them to deal with it better, hm? (And as a result, the reader is none the wiser either. Having a few things left open at the end, for the next volume or two, is cool; having too many is not.)
Conclusion: 2.5/5. Cool themes, and this will probably work for part of the intended audience at least, but not so much for me.