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Monstrous Devices

(Monstrous Devices #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  95 reviews
On a winter's day in a British town, twelve-year-old Alex receives a package in the mail: an old tin robot from his grandfather. "This one is special," says the enclosed note, and when strange events start occurring around him, Alex suspects this small toy is more than special; it might be deadly.

Right as things get out of hand, Alex's grandfather arrives, pulling him away
Hardcover, UK edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 19th 2020 by Rock The Boat (first published October 16th 2018)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  359 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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The grandfather is a supremely unlikable character, and the pace and plotting get real dodgy in the last fifty pages. But the setting is compelling, the story is intriguing on the whole, and there is a lot for me to like about a middle-grade novel that doesn't flinch at getting a little dark; kids need scary/thrilling stories, too.
Very fun. Think Steven Spielberg (circa Indiana Jones) meets Jewish folklore. And the role of Grandpa goes to: Sean Connery (also circa Indiana Jones). If you can't get enough golems, 'Sweep' by Jonathan Auxier is another excellent middle-grade from 2018.
Kathy Cunningham
Damien Love’s MONSTROUS DEVICES is a devilishly creepy children’s book about a young boy’s journey with his grandfather. Twelve-year-old Alex collects toy robots, but when his grandfather sends him a strange, very old looking, little tin robot, neither of them are prepared for what happens. The robot itself seems to have a mysterious connection to Alex, and it isn’t long before he and his grandfather are traveling through Europe (with stops in Paris and Prague) to prevent a cadre of strange ...more
Marilyn Smith
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventures-10-14
This is wild, slightly creepy and quite a mystery. Like Charlie Bucket entering Willy Wonka's odd wonderful world, Alex accompanies his secretive grandfather on an impromptu mission to Paris.
All Alex knows for sure is his old metal robot toy seems to have powers fascinating and terrifying that are key to their hasty trip from Paris across to Prague.
It seems they're fighting against time and the wild legends are very much present and growing in danger. An excellent read, simply fabulous.
♠ TABI ♠
this sounds like the kind of story I wished would happen to me when I was a child
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lynne
The positives:
This book is a fabulous choice for teachers! It serves as the springboard for numerous lesson ideas. A science unit in which students learn about the five simple machines then employ that knowledge by designing and constructing their own robots. Mathematical concepts obviously will be needed in conjunction with the construction as well as in determining the distance traveled by the novel's young protagonist, Alex, and his grandfather as they trek across Europe. That adventure
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Alex is sent a toy robot by his grandfather, he thinks nothing of it - until he finds himself acting oddly, and strange things happening around him. One night, as he is being attacked in his room by other little robots, his beloved grandfather shows up and spirits him away. And that's when Alex starts to learn that his grandfather isn't all the he appears - and fairy tales may not always be just stories.

This was a good book, great for middle-graders. It's unique and imaginative, the pace is
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Golems are interesting, frightening creatures, aren't they? One could also argue that automata are similarly interesting and frightening. So a book that combines both with adventure and chase scenes (including one on the rooftops of Paris) is a book I want to promote to my readers. Alex's life is somewhat like that of Milo's in The Phantom Tollbooth, albeit with a bit of bullying added, and the excitement of the toys his grandfather brings him lessens that somewhat. But this time, the gift is a ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. I was worried after reading the preface and the first chapter that it would be a bit to scary for the recommended age group, but it wasn’t at all. Or at least I thought it was age appropriate.

This story felt like a blend of Harry Potter meets A Series of Unfortunate Events. Like a lot of middle grade novels out there the boy had one remaining parent left, but unlike a lot of middle grade books that wasn’t the focus of the plot and that was one of the reasons I
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-ya
Really enjoyed this one, and look forward to the sequel that seems likely. It first reminded me of The Historian but for "middle grade", with its embedding of classical motifs like the golem in a contemporary setting, and then of The Monstrumologist, bringing a kid into a world of generally ignored monsters -- but the linking of the golem and robots (through the Czech origins) is its own thing, and I quite liked it. I'm far removed from the MG target audience, but I do enjoy reading them, at ...more
Ms. Yingling
Public library copy

A lot like Kenny's Tin. Good book, just have limited number of readers who want animatronics.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't for me.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, sell
This book has all the classic enjoyable tropes — young protagonist kept in the dark about unnatural circumstances and lore by an older/elderly figure, and the two go off on a wild adventure full of action, chase, asked and unanswered questions, and mysterious power.

In that regard, it is a thrilling book.


I love to read stories of machinations, robots, artificial intelligence; you name it. Can’t get enough of it. But this book, while it certainly had many robots and machinations, took a
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book so much. In fact, my co-worker, when I told her I didn't like it said, "What? But it seemed right up your alley!"Monstrous Devicesis a cool concept but the book is a bit of a mess. There is too much going on and none of it gets fully realized. The grandfather in the book is constantly doing things that set a bad example for children. He says "Don't do what I do" but the characters only survive because of what he does. A lot of things are brought up but never resolved. ...more
Kathy - Books & Munches
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-s
AD - Thanks to Rock the Boat for gifting me an ARC to review!

Oh my. So.. Like.. I don't know but in a way I'm ashamed to admit that yet another middle grade-book spooked me. I already admitted to Schwab's City of Ghosts scaring me - not to mention if she'd written it as a young adult or even an adult novel. But.. I was kind of hoping that one would be an exception? It seems I'm simply a huge pussy because Monstrous Devices had me all goosebump-y only a couple of chapters in. Who knew I'd get
Natalie Carbery
I need to start this review by stating that I am not part of the target audience. I picked this book up because I recognized Charles Bridge on the cover and wanted to go back to being 21 and in love.

This book pulls on some really wonderful Czech themes--the Golum of Prague (a Jewish myth) as well as Rossum's Universal Robots (the play that introduced the word robot to the world). Mixing these two themes didn't seem probable at first but eventually evolved into a fun heist-y vibed plot. Over all
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life takes a strange turn for Alex, a bullied London schoolboy, when he receives a toy robot in the mail from his grandfather – possibly the original toy based on the early 20th century Czech play that coined the word “robot.” Soon afterward, Alex is attacked in his bedroom by several other toy robots that seem to have come to life. Also, he senses that his own robot has a mind of its own, offering him a power that he secretly covets.

Promptly, Granddad shows up and sweeps Alex off on a perilous
Amy Garrett-Williams
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an interesting book! I had heard a lot about this book before the lovely guys at Netgalley and Rock the Boat granted my request to read this and I wasn’t disappointed.

Alex receives a postcard and a parcel from his grandad who is away in Prague, in this parcel is a curious little metal robot. This robot looks a little different from the other Alex has collected and his grandfather’s postcard says it’s special.

Alex has a good look at the robot and it nicks his finger causing it to bleed, he
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Firstly I want to say thank you to Rock the Boat for sending me an early copy of this book for review, I really appreciate the opportunity.

I had really high hopes for this book, I've read a lot of middle grade and whilst I am not the target audience I feel like I can appreciate them all the same and I really enjoy splitting up my heavy fantasy reads with these throughout the month. I have never read one involved Robots so this was something that I really thought I would enjoy. I did enjoy it,
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast-paced and imaginative, I adore the concept of a boy and his grandfather on an adventure. Add in evil robots and ancient golems and you have a genuinely fascinating blend of technology and myth.

It’s begging for a sequel. The two main characters have an incomplete story arc. Without getting spoilery, we trust neither one of them at the end of the book. The MC for spoilery reasons. The grandfather because he keeps the truth hidden, even from himself. We get a peek at the broken foundation of
Tim Gordon
My family has always been very much against keeping secrets from each other. For example, when the kids straight up asked if Santa was real, we couldn't lie to them. We know we might be wrong about a lot of stuff, but at least we're being honest and open with the information we have.

Books where good guys withhold information from other good guys to keep the plot going drive me absolutely insane. The most popular (and worst offender) of this is Harry Potter Book 5, where the plot progresses only
Alex receives a package from his grandfather, containing a robot inside. A note is left with it saying, “this one is special.” Soon, strange occurrences start to occur. Alex’s grandfather shows up and whisks him away on an adventure full of magic and assassins out to stop them.
While this was an entertaining and imaginative book, I found it lacking in a lot of places. A ton of information was left open at the end and was treated as if it didn’t matter. The villains are never fully explained, and
Twelve-year-old Alex receives a package in the mail on a cold wintery night. The delicately wrapped package contains an old tin robot from his grandfather with a note that says, "This one is special". Alex starts noticing strange events occurring and he suspects the toy might be the cause.

Right before Alex is attacked, his grandfather manages to save him. Worried about Alex's safety, his grandfather decides to take him to Europe. In Europe, Alex becomes entangled in a world of magic and an
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Monstrous Devices by Damien Love, 338 pages. Viking (Penguin Random House), 2018. $18.

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.



When Alex’s grandpa shows up suddenly and whisks him on an adventure, Alex is desperately trying to figure out why. He learns gradually about robots that have taken on human characteristics and one in particular that has enough power to control an entire population. His grandpa is reluctant with
Carolyn Jeziorski
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a page-turner! I was lucky to pick up an ARC at ALAAC2018. Let me preface this review by saying I am not much of a fantasy reader; it’s never been my preferred genre. This story, though, grabbed my attention. I couldn’t put it down. It was intriguing and mysterious. Alex, a small kid who gets bullied quite a bit, is given a unique robot by his grandfather. This sets off a chain of events that takes them to Paris and Prague. The book pulls in religious stories (the golem of Prague) and has ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Alex's grandfather sends him a robot, Alex is not surprised. He's been collecting robots for years. But, this one is different -- older, unique, even a bit creepy. And, it has a secret.

Alex's grandfather shows up in England shortly after Alex receives the device and gets a visit from two dangerous little robots that move. He'll have to miss a bit of the school term but it's almost over, so Alex quickly goes along with his Grandfather's scheme and they take the Chunnel train to Paris.
Shannon Ozirny
Allan Corduner does a totally cracking job of narrating this light fantasy, chase-heavy story. This is one of the best family road trip audiobook candidates I've listened to in awhile. Also a fantastic cold weather listen (snow in Paris, Christmas Market in Prague, yessssssss).
The wires of the plot definitely get a bit crossed here and there with the narrative arc feeling a bit fuzzy and undefined in places. There are parts where it feels like Love sat down without knowing exactly what he was
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars, but I'll round up. Monstrous Devices has got a real "Tim Burton" feel to it. I'm not big on unanswered questions but I suppose it's being set up for a sequel. It's well written, fast-paced (almost too fast-paced - give us some time to breathe, Damien!), somewhat dark, definitely mysterious, and at times creepy but in a good way. Hats off to the author for some fun characters -- really enjoyed the MC's grandfather's quirks: "Never do this, Alex" and always interrupting himself to go on ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, fast-paced story with toy robots come to life. 13 yo Alex and his dashing/daring grandpa (he made me think of Patrick Macnee from the British TV show The Avengers) make a wonderful duo. They were funny together and kept each other in check. The story is somewhat interesting, but it is basically a series of chases and fights held together by a legend (the Golem of Prague) that might right relate to the toy. Great book for older elementary school and middle school kids. Older readers will ...more
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Damien Love’s writing on movies, music and television has appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines.

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