Monday, May 18, 2015

The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell

On the outskirts of a forest, in a heavily guarded mansion lives Christina and her paranoid scientist father. His paranoia began after the tragic loss of Christina’s mother. So to protect his daughter, Christina is lovingly imprisoned at home. But Christina can’t help but wonder about the outside world, especially when the orphan boy, Taft, risks talking to her through the mansion’s fence. Taft tells Christina of his problems at the orphanage and his need to escape through a rumored secret tunnel. Christina’s curiosity is piqued and the two work together to leave behind their predicaments. But the tunnel holds more than just freedom. It also holds the truth behind Christina’s mother.

In many middle-grade books, the plots seem randomly woven together with strange characters, settings, or dilemmas because authors are attempting to write an "original" story to keep a tween's attention. Often authors fail and nothing is keeping the storyline together except the book's binding. However, Jonell's novel is an entirely different matter. In the case of The Secret of Zoom, Jonell's plot is completely original, but it reads like a classic piece of children's literature. These classic elements are the foreboding old mansion, oppressed orphans, and the loss of a parent. But Jonell's originality comes by adding several science-fiction twists like secret laboratories, mini-planes, and an energy powder activated by singing. No reader should skip out on experiencing The Secret of Zoom. Great for ages 10 and up.

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