Book Review: The Wells Bequest

Book Review: The Wells BequestThe Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman
Series: The Grimm Legacy #2
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books on June 13th 2013
Pages: 272
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Leo never imagined that time travel might really be possible, or that the objects in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novels might actually exist. And when a miniature time machine appears in Leo’s bedroom, he has no idea who the tiny, beautiful girl is riding it. But in the few moments before it vanishes, returning to wherever—and whenever—it came from, he recognizes the other tiny rider: himself!

His search for the time machine, the girl, and his fate leads him to the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a magical library that lends out objects instead of books. Hidden away in the Repository basement is the Wells Bequest, a secret collection of powerful objects straight out of classic science fiction novels: robots, rockets, submarines, a shrink ray—and one very famous time machine. And when Leo’s adventure of a lifetime suddenly turns deadly, he must attempt a journey to 1895 to warn real-life scientist Nikola Tesla about a dangerous invention. A race for time is on!

In this grand time-travel adventure full of paradoxes and humor, Polly Shulman gives readers a taste of how fascinating science can be, deftly blending classic science fiction elements with the contemporary fantasy world readers fell in love with in The Grimm Legacy.

The Wells Bequest is a companion novel to The Grimm Legacy, a book I had not read before reading this one. The main character is Leo, who seems a miniature version of himself with an attractive girl flying on a miniature time machine. The only hint his mini self gives him is to read a book by H.G. Wells. Then Leo has a case of insta-love and his first thought is why would he be with such a beautiful girl. So he goes out in search of her and instead finds the New York Circulating Material Repository, which ironically enough the girl on on the time machine works at.

Jaya is the girl he saw himself with and she happens to work at the Repository. My favorite part of reading this book was learning more about the Repository and especially the special collections. I loved the idea of such a place. My problem came in a bit with the somewhat annoying budding romance between Leo and Jaya. Maybe it was due to Leo being the voice of the book, he becomes quickly obsessed, not unlike a teenage boy, with a beautiful girl. It helps when she turns out to be intelligent, creative and a bit kick butt when needed.

The plot itself circles around the relationship between Jaya and Leo. Jaya decides not to spend time with another employee, Simon, one who is plainly in love with her as well. After he is scorned, he becomes the villain of the story and the reason the preempts the time travel elements in the book. I really wanted to love this book, but it's hard to read a middle grade novel that is so entrenched in a love plot, doing something that bad YA novels do too often. I expect more for middle grade novels, deeper plots with deeper meanings. Not a time travel adventure prompted by a jealous love interest.

Final Verdict: The Wells Bequest did not live up to expectations and fell into the category of books that are too easily based on romance. I did enjoy the settings, the Repository, and the time travel adventures, but overall was disappointed.

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