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The Hunchback Assignments

(The Hunchback Assignments #1)

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  3,473 ratings  ·  450 reviews
A gripping new series combines Steampunk, spying, and a fantastic Victorian London.

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania's efforts to rule the empir
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Ramona I really don't believe this is a young teen story. It starts with the boy young but the rest of the stories have him older, in adult situations. I wou…moreI really don't believe this is a young teen story. It starts with the boy young but the rest of the stories have him older, in adult situations. I would rate it PG13(less)

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Average rating 3.62  · 
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Start your review of The Hunchback Assignments (The Hunchback Assignments, #1)
Although others have classified this book as young adult, I would consider it to be for a younger audience than that. I would recommend it for tweens and young teens. I’m rating it three stars, but that’s for the reading experience from my current vantage point as an adult. I think that if I’d read it at the right age, I would definitely have rated it at four stars.

The story is an interesting mix of steampunk elements and allusions to classic literature. The main character, Modo (the hunchback o
Oct 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
The first in a new series, this is the story of a hideously deformed boy with a fantastic secret, one that saves him from life as freak in a traveling show.

Modo, the young boy, is rescued from a cage in the back of a gypsy's wagon by Mr. Socrates. He is then sent to Ravenscroft, a house in the country, and spends the next thirteen years inside the house with his caretaker Mrs. Finchley, an assortment of tutors, and his training master, Tharpa. Over the years, Mr. Socrates trains him in a variety
Dec 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: steam-punk
Reading level: Middle Grades Plus (MG+ 6 and up)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Word Count: 63217
Main Focus Group: Boys
I haven't read much at this point in the genre of steam punk (think of H.G. Wells on steroids) but I really liked this book. Much like Alex Rider or one of the CHERUB Agents, this story revolves around a teenage boy, Modo and teenage girl, Octavia, saving the world (well in this case just London).
In this, the opening book of the series we are introduced to the main players. First is Mr. Soc
Every summer I attend San Diego Comic Con, where I often frequent the the Random House booth, and try to get as many Advanced Reader's Copies as I possibly can; and usually, I read these books withing the month, but in this case it took me a while to get to the book. Well, I finally picked this one off my shelf and decided to read it; I could not put it down! I finished it in two days (September 22-23). The back of the book does not quite do this book justice, but gives one the main idea of the ...more
"The large carriage rattled with grotesqueries -- bones of cats and pigs strung up as wind chimes, bleached bear skulls dangling from wires, and three shrunken monkey heads mounted on posts."

This is where Modo is found as a child -- living in a cage in a traveling freak show, exhibited as "L'enfant du Monstre" for his hunchback and other heavy deformities. A mysterious benefactor, Mr. Socrates, rescues him from this life and raises him in seclusion, with only his nursemaid and an instructor for
An Odd1
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, fan
"The Hunchback Assignments" are tasks performed by deformed Modo for the Victorian Empire. I see why Arthur Slade wins awards. This is a cracking scary steampunk adventure yarn, with a hint of attraction between brave and funny teens in my beloved old London.
Mr. Socrates, head of the secret Permanent Association dedicated to Britain's preservation, rescues the orphan and trains him to age 14, seeing the potential in his chameleon ability to temporarily transform his appearance. With luminous Oc
Sara Olson
Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up “The Hunchback Assignments” by Arthur Slade randomly last week at the library. I was bored and feeling risky.

The book is loosely, and I mean loosely based on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. Okay, so I haven’t exactly read Hugo’s classic, but I did read the Wikipedia synopsis, and I have seen the Disney movie, so I’m basically an expert now.

The book is set in late 1800s England, and follows Modo – a shape-shifting hunchback who is raised in seclusion until he’s 14. At th
3 1/2 stars; I love the "steampunk" setting, and thought it was a really neat concept. ...more
Dasha ~Made of bad materials, yet well put together~
I read this sssooo many years ago, and can barely remember much... Ah, but it was pretty unique and original read. And interesting, too. Ah, the memories come flooding back...
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: Arthur Slade had a new book out and I was thrilled to find out it was the start of a series. I had been wanting him to venture out into a series.

Summary: Modo is an orphan taken in by Mr. Socrates and kept house-bound for the first thirteen years of his life where he is trained in body and mind. Modo is a hunchback with a terribly disfigured face which is so repugnant to look upon that Mr. Socrates does not allow mirrors in the house until he decides Modo is old enough to se
Mar 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I really liked this book! Have you ever finished a story and felt sort of smug on the author's behalf?

"Yep that was brilliant all right - ooh he is good!"

That is the feeling that this book evokes. It has got everything you could wish for - a splash of romance, a dash of mystery, a thimbleful of intrigue and a whole bowl full of danger!

Modo is an ugly child, saved from life as a traveling "freak show" attraction by the enigmatic Mr. Socrates. Mr. Socrates is a man high up in the hierarchy of a
Laura Morrigan
What if Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame worked as a secret agent for a mysterious man protecting the interests of Victorian England? This rollicking Steampunk adventure answers that question, while sweeping through a fast paced series of excitement and adventure.

Modo is an ugly hunchbacked child, rescued by Mr. Socrates from a freak show, due to his amazing ability to shape shift. Brought up in a remote country house, teenage Modo is without warning flung out into the dangerous world of L
Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book in a day and really enjoyed it. If you like steampunk combined with fantasy elements you'll probably like The Hunchback Assignments.

The main character Modo is a deformed hunchback with a heartbreaking story. He hates himself for the way he looks and just wants to be normal. Despite his outward appearance he has a heart of gold and I found him to be a really likable character throughout the entire book.

Octavia. What a character. One minute that girl was charming a cab driver to
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
One word: flat. No wait, I have lots more words. Dreary. Miserable. Highlights the worst of humanity while providing us with a completely unimaginative story arc. When I got to the climax of the action I couldn't possibly believe that that was all it was - I had guessed as much a hundred pages ago. Maybe this would appeal to a certain age of young boy, but I was just not feeling it. I would have abandoned it, but it was barely over 200 pages, so I slogged through it. Felt like 500 pages by the e ...more
Rebecca L
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-reads
Three words best describe this book; Weird, creepy, dark. Didn't care for it much, I mean who wants to read about a weird scientist dissecting/remodeling children and making them into creepy, killing machines? Not me, although I DID read the book I know but I honestly didn't know how bad it was until I was about half way through and then I HAD to finish it to see what happened. The only cool thing about the book was Modo whose ability to change into other people was really neat. ...more
Feb 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to X by: Q
Okay, so it looked like it would be better than it was. Or maybe I was just expecting something more. In any event, I did find it enjoyable and exciting - though the ending was a bit lack luster - and I loved the steampunk setting. Maybe the second book will live up to my expectations a bit better.
Kay Solo
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This one is difficult. It started out with so much potential, but the rest of the book felt lacking. It starts out with a child being relentlessly trained to have superior memory, knowledge of as many things as possible, different languages, etc. and then we see... almost none of any of that. His main talent, the one the book is centered around, is used a little more often, but still not many times. The premise was great, but it didn't do a whole lot in terms of followup. Beyond a few examples o ...more
Kelly Peay
Slade, Arthur. The Hunchback Assignments. (2009). The Hunchback Assignments is a steampunk fantasy book, whose main character is named Modo. Modo is described as so appalling ugly, deformed and hunchedback, that when Mr. Socrates, his guardian, puts a mirror in his bedroom, he cries hysterically. But Modo has the ability to transform himself to look like anyone he imagines
(Unfortunately, he is unable to stay that way.), and this is how he comes into the custody of Mr. Socrates.

Mr. Socrates tra
Brindi Michele
This was a really hard one to get through. I'm not a huge steampunk fan. I won't shy away completely from reading this genre, but for me to like it, the book has to be really well done. THIS was not that. Had it not been for a decent narration, I would have been beyond bored out of my mind. And I feel like this was poorly plotted and, sadly, anticlimactic. (However, I don't think it was that climactic to begin with.)

Two stars instead of one because a tween might like this. Maybe.
Cascata Nerina
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: See my review
If you want a more in depth preview: It definitely combined the classics of the Hunchback of Notre Dame (most notably in the main character) and that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (In one of the other characters and some of the plot). However, as a whole the novel was definitely original and new. A steam punk coming of age set in a world of classics.

The plot itself was twisted and convoluted, and yet also straight forward. I would say that if you're paranoid it makes it a much more difficult read
Molly Pace
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-fiction
Mr. Socrates found Modo when he was four years old, hunchbacked and deformed, locked in a cage by gypsies who charged pennies to come and stare at the “Demon child.” He paid for Modo’s education and for the upstairs room where he lived hidden from the world. His only companions were Mrs. Finchley, a retired actress who served as his governess, and Tharpa, Mr. Socrates’ man who taught him hand-to-hand combat and physical fitness. It was not the most ordinary of childhoods, but then, Modo was not ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Theresa L. Stowell for

Mysterious Mr. Socrates found a one-year-old child in the back of a gypsy cart with the label "L'Enfant du Monstre." Thinking the child was just physically deformed, Mr. Socrates turned to go; however, the toddler called out to him, and when he looked again, a reformation was taking place. This infant was able to change his facial features, so the deformity disappeared for a few moments. Mr. Socrates immediately recognized the value in this abil
Lelia Taylor
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: full-reviews
The Hunchback Assignments
Arthur Slade
Narrated by Jayne Entwistle
Listening Library, 2009
ISBN 0739380206
Unabridged Audio Book

Modo is an abandoned child in Victorian London, a child with such a fearsome appearance that no one could possibly care for him. Mr. Socrates, though, a mysterious gentleman of means, takes Modo in and raises him in a somewhat aloof fashion but with a purpose in mind. A governess and a man with martial skills are his only companions and teachers but the approval of Mr. Socra
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

At the tender age of one, Modo is rescued from a traveling freak show by the mysterious Mr. Socrates, who takes him in and raises him to be well read and knowledgeable in the fighting arts. Deformed and never knowing his mother and father, Modo comes to rely on Mr. Socrates, the kindly housekeeper, Mrs. Finchley, and his fighting instructor, Tharpa, who was also taken in as a child by Mr. Socrates. At age 14, Modo is taken
Oct 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steampunk
Make that a 3.5 star rating.
First off, if I remember correctly, this is a YA book, so I have to keep that mind in reviewing it. The writing is well done, and the characters are very well done. Modo's life, and him growing as a character was interesting to watch, as was Octavia's softening towards him and losing her bitchy/selfish attitude.

The world for this book is actually fairly interesting, with Slade's take on steampunk to be fairly unique in some regards, especially with Hyde's formula an
 Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri
An enticing and exciting YA novel of Steampunk in Victorian England, “The Hunchback Assignments” merges factual history with the alternate universe of steam, clockwork mechanisms, mad scientists, and global conspiracy. On one hand is an upscale, rather elitist organization calling itself the “Permanent Association,” determined not only to preserve Great Britain from anarchists, but intent as well on keeping Britannia the ruler of a great and far-flung empire of Manifest Destiny. Opposed to this ...more
Mel Z
Oct 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arthur Slade has really done it again with this first book in his new steampunk series. Without a doubt, The Hunchback Assignments was one of my favourite books of the year - an exciting read from start to finish. Set in an alternative Victorian era, Slade takes his readers through the streets, alleys, rooftops and sewers of London. Modo, the main character, is a deformed hunchbacked boy with the ability to shapeshift - one of my favourite characters of all times. He is an amazing hero that is s ...more
I love picking up a book and immediately thinking of several kids to give it to. There's a historical setting, which is there more for atmosphere than anything else, an orphaned hunchback with a knack for rearranging his features, a benevolent (or is he?) father figure, plenty of steampunk-ish machines, a few strolls through London's sewers, plenty of action, mysterious associations and secret plots...what more do you need? Plus, the audio version is perfectly narrated, with accents and enough d ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fast-paced, fantastically-steampunky read! I hadn't planned to read the whole book in one sitting at all, but I ended up pouring through it only a few hours after I bought it! Riveting good stuff.

I really do like the fact that the steampunk elements aren't thrown in as a second thought here, as so many authors are wont to do nowadays. The technology is at the heart of The Hunchback Assignments, with a sympathetic and well fleshed-out protagonist to boot. Modo is quite an interesting character
Christophe Ang
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm only halfway through the book, but from what I understand it's a science/fantasy novel taking place in Great Britain during the 1800s. It follows the telling tale of a deformed hunchback from France (much like the Hunchback of Notre Dame) that has the ability to shapeshift. He is adopted by a man named Socrates who takes care of him for many years and developing him into a secret agent. When Modo, the hunchback, becomes 15, he is then appointed his first assignment and put to use from Socrat ...more
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What was your favourite book in this series and why. 2 8 Jul 05, 2013 04:04PM  

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Arthur Slade was raised in the Cypress Hills of southwest Saskatchewan and began writing at an early age. He is the author of the bestselling The Hunchback Assignments series of books, Dust (which won the Governor General's award), Tribes and Jolted. He lives in Saskatoon, Canada (which really is a real place). Join his creative & somewhat clever newsletter at: what a zany newsletter! ...more

Other books in the series

The Hunchback Assignments (4 books)
  • The Dark Deeps (The Hunchback Assignments, #2)
  • Empire of Ruins (The Hunchback Assignments, #3)
  • Island of Doom (The Hunchback Assignments, #4)

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