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Sound Bender #1

Sound Bender

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A roaring, supernatural adventure that spans New York, and the globe!

After their parents' plane goes down over the ocean, Leo and his brother Hollis are forced into the custody of their rich and enigmatic uncle Crane, a dealer of rare and probably illicit antiques. But almost as soon as he's settled--or as close to settled as he can get in the bleak Brooklyn mansion, surrounded by his uncle's dubious staff--Leo receives a mysterious package his father put together long ago, to be opened on his 13th birthday. With the package, Leo discovers he has an amazing ability. He can hear the history of any object by touching it. But when Leo finds a strange helmet buried among his uncle's artifacts, and hears a pained cry coming from it, a mystery unravels as to its origin.

To find out more about Sound Bender, and to continue the Sound Bender Experience, please visit Sound-Bender-World.com.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published November 1, 2011

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Lin Oliver

98 books55 followers

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5 stars
172 (29%)
4 stars
171 (29%)
3 stars
146 (25%)
2 stars
62 (10%)
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27 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 93 reviews
Profile Image for Jen.
1,070 reviews92 followers
November 8, 2011
Do you ever stop and listen to the sounds around you? I mean really listen? The ticking of a clock? The rhythmic sound of tires running over pavement? When you're listening to a song, do you only hear the lyrics or do you hear the sounds all the other instruments are making? How about objects? Do you hear the sounds they make? Can you hear the danger in them? Twelve year old Leo Lomax can.

Following the sudden death of his parents, Leo and his ten year old brother Hollis, are sent to live with their Uncle Crane whose a rare collectibles dealer (and a little on the creepy side). On his thirteenth birthday, Leo is given an envelope from his father containing a letter and a disc with information that are for his eyes and ears only. His father's letter reveals a secret that will change the way Leo sees, or should I say hears the world around him forever. Leo's always known he's a little different but he's never understood why. When he discovers that he can "hear" the objects in his uncle's house, everything begins to make sense to him.

With the help of his best friend Trevor, Leo begins an adventure that that will not only stretch the laws of science and nature but will test the limits of his Uncle Crane's patience as well. Leo learns that with any gift or ability comes the responsibility to use it wisely. This isn't always easy and he'll be faced with making choices that could be costly, not only for those he's trying to protect but for he and Hollis too. Will he make the right choice? Will he live up to the name he was given? Will he listen...really listen?

This book is full of adventure and sci-fi fun and there are plenty of good lessons to be learned. It definitely gives new meaning to the expression, "Listen up!"



1 review1 follower
October 5, 2011
I just finished Sound Bender, and am so glad I checked it out. It has a truly unique and fascinating premise. It was a fast and engaging read, terrific for middle grade or young adults who love adventure and music. I highly recommend this book.
10 reviews4 followers
May 9, 2016
Sound Bender is about a boy named Leo Lomax. He records all different sorts of sounds, all the time and he is fascinated by the unique sounds in his life. Leo and his brother Hollis have lived a very normal life and they have been very happy with life too. Until their parents die in a plane crash, now they have to move to their Uncle Crane’s house. His house is filled with valuable artifacts, that he buys and then sells to the highest bidder. While Leo is there, he turns thirteen and Crane tells him that he has a special gift for him. Crane gives him the gift and it turned out to be something from Leo’s father. It is a package and Leo opens it to find a letter and a strange, blue record. In the letter it from his father it tells him that he was not born in NYC, but on an island. His mother and father were there as his father studied the tribe people there. It said that Leo was given an ancestral name by the shaman and it was Sound Bender. But he was not to know about his special name until he was 13. When Leo first touches the blue record, he starts hearing noises that he had never heard before. After this strange event, he starts being able to hear the past of things when he touches them. For example one day at school, he picks up a pen belonging to a girl he likes, and he hears a man’s voice saying, “Merry Christmas Honey.” And so he then knew that the pen was a Christmas gift from her father. Then one day Leo and his friend Trevor explore Crane’s stuff to see what Leo will hear, when they find a helmet that when Leo touches it he hears a cry of pain, and fear and underwater noise. Leo now makes it his mission to uncover the secrets that lie beneath this strange helmet and he feels that there is something very important that he has to do. Leo goes to his friend Jeremy, who owns a record store and after a long time of looking finds a match of the same sound he heard the first night when he was feeling the helmet. He travels on a journey to find the guy who made the record with the matching sound on it. He steals the helmet from him Uncle and takes it with him to the man. While he is there he discovers that the helmet was used on dolphins and he grows to hate it more and more. His uncle was actually going to sell the helmet for a very high cost. His uncle finds him and tells him to give hi the helmet back. Crane tries to bribe Leo for the helmet, telling him would give him tons of money. Leo ends up smashing the helmet.
I think think that this book was only okay. It was definitely not my favorite. It was a cool idea, but I never really “connected” to it. I just liked the main idea of it, how he could touch something and hear sounds from the object's past. Other than that though, I didn’t really enjoy the rest of the story. I would give this book only three stars out of five. It also seemed to just drag on and on and on. There were times where it got exciting, but it isn’t one that will always stick in my head, or that I really cared about that much. I would give it two stars. Pages: 272
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Emily.
40 reviews
January 30, 2013
I received this book through Goodreads First reads

Leo Lomax and his younger brother Hollis have just moved in with their uncle Crane after a terrible plane crash took their parents. When the brothers arrive at their uncle Crane's Brooklyn warehouse, they're less than impressed; their uncle was a dealer of priceless artifacts, yet there was no hint of luxury. That was, until Klevko, their uncle's assistant brought them to the huge penthouse on the top floor of the warehouse. Leo can tell already that their uncle is less than an honorable man when money was involved, but Hollis is blind to it by all the pretty and expensive things. It also happens to be Leo's birthday today, and he receives a mysterious package from his deceased father that changes his life forever, and sets him on a journey of self discovery and wild adventure.

I found this book to be an easy read at first, I liked the characters, especially the Polish family that worked for Crane, they were hilarious. But as I got further the story seemed to get a little disjointed and I felt that there had been a waste of characters and plot development, and I was left wondering about those characters who suddenly left the story and were never mentioned again.

Through Leo's adventures I also feel the book got a little preachy about the effects of war and the environment, and it turned me off to wanting to finish the book; and I lost interest in it. Also, I felt there was a lot of build up to the climax of the story, but once they got to it, it didn't quite deliver and I was left disappointed again.

Time and physical space seemed to get a bit wibbly wobbly as well. It was hard for me to believe Crane's warehouse was big enough to have three rooms connected by glass bridges and a whole mess of secret rooms and still be as discrete as it's described. And in several parts of the book, minutes seem to take hours, and at one particular part it seemed like hours took mere minutes. This added to the disjointed feeling of the book.

I felt there was an "oldies" vibe to some of it as well, and it made everything feel out of place.

But all in all I feel this was an okay book. The story behind Leo's power was a very interesting one, and there was a good hint of mystery to the whole thing. I would recommend this to younger kids mostly, perhaps they won't find it as preachy as I do and will enjoy it more.

Thank you to Lin Oliver and Theo Baker for my signed copy. And happy reading everyone!
Profile Image for Diana Gagliardi.
Author 2 books7 followers
April 17, 2012
Sound Bender- a name, an ability, a title, a book.

I met the authors, mother and son, this fall. This sound-centric book is based on real things that Theo Baker did- wonder with a tape recorder, facinated by sounds and listening to the world around him. Years later he and his mom (co-writer of series of books with Harold Winkler, etc) took that concept and gave it an S/F bend.

Leo Lomax (named after the incredible father and son recording team of the 1930s- I asked :)) is about to turn 13 when his parents are killed in a plane crash, leaving himself and his younger brother Hollis in the care of his father's money-mad step-brother. But his father left behind a strange blue disk that awakens a power in him that let's him "hear" the past.

There is SO much set up that I nearly didn't finish. Perhaps this is because it is left that there could be more books in the future. Perhaps they realised that the climax wasn't as remarkable as they hoped, but all in all it was tedious. The climax itself was good, but what could have been chapters and chapters of build up and understanding was rushed in FOUR PAGES and then became (for all intents and purposes) a Punch and Judy moralistic conclusion. Was there a deadline that they were worried about missing and just punched out the end to be done?

In any case, I would read a second book to see where they might take it if it weren't for set-up, but overall disappointing, especially in comparison with just how much fun it was talking to them.
127 reviews1 follower
April 6, 2012
I won this book on Goodreads. My 12 year old is reading it now - I will update this when he is done since it is geared toward the younger crowd. That being said, I enjoyed the book. Of course, the parents die in the beginning and he and his brother go to live with an uncle. It is about a boy discovering new talents and how to listen to his inner voice that tells him what is right. He learns he has a new power on his 13th birthday. I don't like to list too much about the story itself but it was a good read and I think my son is enjoying it as well.

12 year old boy's review - The book was amazing. It was a combination of fantasy and history. It shows that people can love animals like people. The boy Leo, has a gift to hear thing by touching it. When he finds a helmet and tries to find out what it is. His journey takes him across the world in a search to find the truth. This fabulous adventure will have your head spinning in a twisting tale of a young boy.
3 reviews
May 7, 2014
Sound Bender I thought was a really good book. If you like action mystery and a little bit of sadness you have the right book. I liked that the mystery of the book made it a little more sad because of kind of following a trail his dead father left him to found out who he really was. Another thing that I liked out the book is that everyone in the book that can help Leo out try's to help him find out where he is from even the people that only knew his father. The only thing that I didn't really like is that the second and third chapters are kinda slow to get into the book. If you ask me about reading Sound Bender I would say it is a good book as long as you like a little mystery and sadness.
311 reviews2 followers
September 19, 2011
A good piece of young adult fiction. I rated it as such; for an adult, I would rate it at 3 stars. Still. I was certainly entertained. Some logical flaws in the plot, but lots of fun. Even the bad guys are interesting, and a nice mix of good/bad/? in their characters. The authors dealt well with a 13 year old boy dealing with the loss of his parents and a change in his worldview at the same time. Nothing to offend anyone, and as such easy to recommend to your kids.
Profile Image for Lu.
180 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2012
I loved this book! I'm curious when the 2nd in the series will come out.
5 reviews
June 1, 2013
Good for middle school. It kept the boys reading and discussing. What more can a tutor wish for?
Profile Image for Praise.
5 reviews
May 31, 2013
This book was awesome. For Leo being a sound bender must have been weird and cool at the same time. I like this book.
1 review
April 26, 2019
This story, Sound Bender by Lin Oliver and Theo Baker, takes place in New York City and is about a boy names Leo with powers to see the past by “listening” to object he touches. He has to thwart the plans of an evil organization. I chose this book because I enjoy fantasy adventure books, and because Leo seemed like a character I could relate to.
There are many characters that play an important role in this story, Leo, the main protagonist, Harris, Leo’s younger brother, Klevko the butler, Trevor Leo’s friend, supporter and secondary protagonist, and Crane, Leo’s uncle. The main conflict is the organization that aims to weaponize something that should not be weaponized. Leo matures a lot over the story, Trevor also matures, and Harris reluctantly begins supporting Leo. Themes include family, ethics, friendship, good vs evil, coming of age and perseverance.
My opinion is that this book is a great read for teenagers. It’s a page turner and will invoke emotion through relatable characters and tense suspenseful situations. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys mystery and fantasy combinations, and a suspenseful read.
Profile Image for Sheila.
Author 71 books180 followers
July 19, 2019
Sound Bender is an intriguing novel for middle-grade readers with much to offer that mythical reluctant boy. The protagonist is orphaned, lives with an almost scary uncle, meets curious strangers, and enjoys the promise of a glorious future if he can just let go of the past. Sibling rivalries, small betrayals, and a teenager’s longing for independence are convincingly brought to life. Meanwhile a curious skill with electronics, plus a previously unknown talent combine to tell Leo there’s more to his world than the hope of a bright future. And behind it all there’s a mystery…

Mystery and family combine in this tale, as Leo comes to learn more of his skills and his family’s past. It’s a cool tale of curious artifacts, nations and peoples, and more, and I’d love to read book 2.

Disclosure: I found it on a deal and couldn’t resist buying it.
Profile Image for Al Cormier.
119 reviews9 followers
December 31, 2021
I sometimes find that as an adult, I am sometimes too critical of young reader books. However, I will attempt to look at this through the eyes of a middle-school aged youngster, which is becoming more difficult as I get older. I did enjoy this first offering in the Sound Bender series which tends to leave the reader wanting to look into the second novel, even after the thrills and adventure have drained them. I would definitely recommend this book to young readers :o)
Profile Image for Sammi.
55 reviews
May 25, 2018
in this book you will follow leo and his brother, hollis, as they travel to their uncles house after their parents died. once he's there leo gets an old package from his father and in it is a disc that leads him to strange places. he learns that when he touches certain things he can hear their past.

recomend to anyone who likes adventure, mystery, and dolphins.
Profile Image for Blaise.
2 reviews
February 1, 2018
This book was really enjoyable. It is a really nice action/mystery book. Can't wait to read the next book.
359 reviews
April 14, 2019
This is another just right book. Peril and excitement. But not over the top for the age it is catering to. Action and adventure, perfectly done for the upper elementary group.
Profile Image for Lisa Hinson.
44 reviews
August 7, 2019
The story kept me engaged and wondering what would happen next. Exposes a new idea as to the way some may think, feel and experience life. The ending was a little rushed, thus the 4 stars.
7 reviews
May 3, 2020
This novel was an amazing fiction story that captivated me and was really interesting!
Profile Image for Sara.
88 reviews12 followers
July 21, 2014
This was good. Another one of those book where you just pass by your cousin's bookshelves pick it up and read it! :P
Two things, from this book, were new for me to experience.
Firstly : Sound.
Yeah, Sound. I've never bothered to think that deep about the sound. Its everywhere. Its even here when I'm typing these words. This guy, Leo, I thought was too boring at first who just loved nothing else in the world apart from sounds, and not the music ones, sounds which general things in life makes where people - like me - don't bother to take interest in.
But, by the end of the book I realized it actually might be peaceful to live your life in those sounds. As if it is reaching a part of you. Reaching the part where your own body speaks out to you.
So, anyway..
Secondly : Dolphins.
Yeah, dolphins. I remember in fifth grade my science teacher asked all of us what our favorite animal was. I was clueless, never thought about it. When few students - well, most of the class - gave their opinion my teacher gave us his then. It was dolphin. And it might sound really hilarious the instant I heard till now, yeah till this time, I decided I would keep dolphin as my favorite animal.
The second half of this book was totally based on Dolphins. Gosh, they poor creatures. The male protagonist, Leo, had special affection for 'em too and I must confess the deeper this book was based on them I actually praised myself for choosing Dolphins as my favorite animal.

Apart from these two experiences there were few little parts where I was touched, where there was enough humor to make me laugh, to make my family stare at me like am a lunatic, and then parts to just make me smile.

Overall, a good read.
A deep read, if you want to enjoy.

I'll be looking forward to read the sequel to it too, hopefully. But I can't promise on this one. :P
Profile Image for Adam20.
2 reviews
June 15, 2012
Sound Bender
By: Lin Oliver, Theo Baker

If you could here the history by touching it would you think you’re different? Sound Bender, A mysterious adventure with a sci-fi twist, After their parents' plane goes down over the ocean, Leo and his brother Hollis are forced into the custody of their rich and snobby uncle Crane, a dealer of rare and probably stolen antiques. But almost as soon as he's settled, or as close to settled as he can get in the dingy Brooklyn mansion, surrounded by his uncle's brain washed like staff. Leo receives a mysterious package his father put together long ago, “to be opened on his 13th birthday.” With the package, Leo discovers he has an amazing ability. He can hear the history of any object by touching it. But when Leo finds a strange helmet buried among his uncle's artifacts, and hears a painful cry coming from it, a mystery unravels.
This book is it’s a well-written book it all makes sense. In the end of each chapter there is always a cliffhanger to keep you attached to this book for example “ As I opened the tattered twine from the package my mind started to fill with endless possibilities I pull open the tab to find a letter.” This book can be described as being a mystery or a sci-fi novel because of the sound bender title and a mystery because Theo the main character try’s to figure out what had happened to there parents. Over all this was an amazing book and would defiantly give an over-all score of ten on ten for the humor and for nice ending. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries or a decent sci-fi novel.
Profile Image for Adam Nielson.
9 reviews1 follower
January 12, 2015
Sound Bender is a fantasy book written by Lin Oliver and Theo Baker. The main character is named Leo Lomax. He was born on a primitive island, where the shamans titled him “Sound Bender.” This gives him the power to hear an object’s past. He often goes to a guitar shop, owned by a man named Jeremy. There he finds out about his birth.

The Sound Bender is a good book, because the characters are not flat, especially Leo. Leo is a person who always wants to do what’s right, who is adventurous, and who cares about other people. The book also has surprises. It is not a book where you know everything about the protagonist and the antagonist from the beginning. The book also has a huge element of heroism. It involves a great friendship between Leo and a boy named Trevor. Leo’s mom and dad were on a plane that disappeared three weeks prior to the beginning of the book, and so Leo’s uncle steps in to be his adopted dad. “Uncle Crane” becomes Leo’s enemy, which adds intrigue to the plot.

Sometimes Leo reminds me of myself in the way that he always wants to do what’s right. He wants to be ethical and good. The biggest example of this is at the end of the book, so I don’t want to spoil it for others, but I found that I could relate to the choice that he ultimately makes.

Sound Bender has a great plot, great characters, and an original idea. This is why everyone should read this book.
Profile Image for Diane Ferbrache.
1,674 reviews20 followers
August 20, 2012
When Leo’s and his brother Hollis’ parents die suddenly, they are sent to live with their step-uncle Crane. Crane lives in a warehouse filled with priceless “artifacts” that he buys and sells. Through a mysterious letter from his dad, Leo discovers he is a “Sound Bender” – he can sometimes make connections to the past through sounds that emanate from certain objects. One of his experiences leads him to a discovery that will change his life.
This is an adventure aimed at middle school boys, but the explanation of Leo’s “power” is rooted in myth and culture that may be beyond young readers. Plus the narrative bogs down with explanations of history of sound recordings and the science of sound. If they can get past that problem, this is a pretty interesting story that includes environmental issues, dolphins, the military, and sibling rivalry. While the basic plot is pretty good, I think the author gets far too mystical for young teens. I’m afraid it will cause them to put it down too soon. Not a bad effort, I just think it could have been better.
13 reviews
February 17, 2020
I thought that the Sound Bende was mediocre. I thought this because I wasn't really fascinated with all the problems and missions that the main character had to go through. I also wasn't entertained with the Wuhu island pat of the story.
Profile Image for Mamatufy.
416 reviews
January 31, 2016
Another winner here. Leo & brother Hollis have recently lost their parents in a plane crash. Now they are going to live with their father's step brother Crane who runs an import export business. After moving into Crane's warehouse/home Leo is given a special disc from his dad that will unlock all the secrets of his life. Turns out he can hear & reproduce all kinds of sounds as well as see the history of the things he touches. There's a little bit of typical teen stuff but it pretty quickly becomes about this one particular artifact that Crane has that draws Leo to it. They end up going to a remote island in the south Pacific to rescue some dolphins. It's close to the worst book I've ever read mainly because of the improbability of children doing the types of things described in this book, i.e., flying off for a weekend with another kid & their adult friend, riding the subway at 3 in the morning alone. I could go on but I won't. I'll be curious to see if anyone will read it.
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