The Hunchback Assignments

The Hunchback Assignments

by Arthur Slade
4.3 28

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Overview

The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

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 empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It’s up to them to save their country.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385737845
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/22/2009
Series: Hunchback Assignments Series , #1
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: HL680L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Arthur Slade has published several novels for young readers, including Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival, Megiddo’s Shadow, Tribes, and Dust, which won the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature. He lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with his wife, Brenda Baker. Visit him on the Web at www.arthurslade.com.

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The Hunchback Assignments: The Hunchback Assignments Series, Book 1 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
Terrific steampunk for the young and not-so-young 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. Socrates is of utmost importance to Modo. Besides the education and training he has received, Modo has learned to develop and control, to a certain extent, his unusual physical powers. Unwilling to let the world see his face, he wears a mask, but he also has the ability to transform his appearance for brief periods. This ability is of special importance when he is suddenly forced to fend for himself as a test of his readiness to take his place as a spy at the age of 14 for the Permanent Association, secretive defenders of Queen Victoria and Great Britain. Fend for himself he does, finding that he can support himself as a detective, and thus he meets a client, Miss Octavia Milkweed, and embarks on a most unusual case. The Hunchback Assignments UK Cover Technically, this is young adult fiction, but many elements make it very appealing to an older reader who will recognize many of the literary shout-outs. A combination of steampunk, fantasy, mystery, espionage and action adventure lead to great fun and the villainous Clockworld Guild, with the mad scientist Dr. Hyde and his dastardly invention, may prove to be an ongoing adversary for Modo, Octavia and the Permanent Association. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will look forward to future installments; I wish Mr. Slade would write faster. I do have to say he has a terrific website (see the link above) and this is one time I think the UK and US covers are equally cool. Also, Jayne Entwistle, already one of my favorite narrators, has done a great job again. Very highly recommended for young adults and adults.
StephanieTiner More than 1 year ago
Modo was born malformed and misshapen but also with a very unique and marvelous gift. After being saved from the life of the traveling freak show by the mysterious Mr. Socrates, Modo is trained to be an agent for the Permanent Association. When Modo stumbles upon an organization planning to attack the British Parliament, he teams up with fellow agent, Octavia Milkweed, to take them down before it is too late. I was expecting more. I'm not sure exactly what, but more. However, given the grade level of this novel, I am not too surprised that I was a little let down. It is, after all, a middle grade novel. That said, this book was an easy read. I liked that Modo resembled the Modo from the Disney film. I was surprised by the other characters I met in this book, mainly Dr. Hyde and Mr. Socrates, and found it interesting that they weren't like the characters I remember from their own stories. I did not like that this book was both its own story but at the same time still the classic story in many ways, at least what I remember of it, it has been a while since I have read the classical version. All in all, it was a decent, middle grade novel and I would recommend it to middle grade aged readers. I am, at this point, unsure if I will continue to read this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wordforteens More than 1 year ago
I love Victorian London. Set a book there, be it in the courts or in the slums, and there's a good chance I'll want to pick it up. (I blame the Parasol Protectorate series for this.) So when I saw this, combined with a new version of Quasimodo, I thought, hey, why not? I liked the plot and the mechanics used in this story a lot; that, at least, was fun to read and see what would happen. I wasn't really sure what they were building and what would happen next and it was fun to find out when it was time for that. I wouldn't say I was kept on the edge of my seat, but I can blame the characters for that. Did I find them interesting? Sure. Mr. Socrates and Modo were quite interesting. (And the girl who comes in later, I adored.) But as the story is told through Modo, I couldn't help but find him rather... boring. I mean, sure, he's a horribly disfigured teenage boy with amazing superstrength and the ability to shapeshift his face, but his personality was nothing special to me. I've been done wit the story for a few days upon writing this review and that's all I can tell you about his character. I could prattle on about the girl, but she's not the main character. And that was what kept me from really liking this book, I think - Modo's lack of personality. Yes, he's supposed to camouflage and be generally dull, but we're in his head! Gimme some spark or something!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the action,suspense, and mystery. Great for boys and girls. Definately worth the buy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot.
Coreena More than 1 year ago
This is a fun steampunk novel for the middle school age group. There is so much adventure and imagination in this book that is is sure to appeal to a wide range of readers. Modo is an incredibly ugly, hunchbacked young orphan who can change his appearance at will He was brought up in isolation by the mysterious Mr. Socrates to be a secret agent. I really felt for him in this book, he is so young and sheltered in so many ways, but so smart and able to fight at the same time. The scenes where he tries to come to terms with his appearance are touching and really add a human element to the book. Modo teams up with Octavia Milkweed, a beautiful but street smart young woman who is also part of Mr. Socrates' secret organization. Mr Socrates is a shady and mysterious character who heads an ultra secret agency that is trying to protect the British Empire. Then there are the supporting characters and bad guys who also add so much to the book. The crazy Dr Hyde, is brilliant with all of his potions and clockwork mechanisms. Hakkandottir is an amazing, diabolical evil woman who kids will love to hate. Slade throws these characters into horrifying scenarios where Modo and Octavia have to use their brains and instincts if they are to defeat the Clockwork Guild and their horrible, yet fascinating, scientific plans. I really enjoyed the setting of Victorian London and the throwing together of the Hunchback and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde stories to create something unique and interesting. The clockwork gadgets and science aspects of the book mixed with well to create exciting action, mystery and intrigue. Then there is Slade's writing, which is sure to keep kids reading. This book will appeal to both boys and girls who have an interest in history and science, as well as those who like fast paced adventure.
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Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
This book was a real fun and enjoyable read. The beginning of the book started off as intriguing and interesting that you were immediately curious as to what was going to happen next. The description of the different inventions and machinery in the book were well written and could be easily pictured in one's mind while reading. I really did like the plot, it was fast, lots of action on the pages, lots of intrigue (I love intrigue!) and mystery, and naturally it story leaves you with what's next on Modo's agenda. There is plenty of steampunk here for those that love the genre. I especially like the clockwork birds. Modo is very easily liked and he's your typical "although he's deformed, he's got a heart of gold" type of character. Mr Socrates is your typical "boss" character, stonefaced, hardly any emotion, and usually is just there to tell others what to do. All characters in the book are likable and fun in their own way(Octavia is very interesting). I really did like the secret society concept used in the book. It gives the plot more mystery and especially if a member of royalty involved it enhances the mystery and intrigue even more. Yet even after being finished with the book there are still questions needed to be answered about this society and it's obvious that we have not seen the last of them yet. What bugged me about the book was the animal experimentation.Yet it wasn't graphical and bloody, but the idea still bothered me though. Another thing I didn't like is sometimes the description - a particular description of a machine was very hard for me to picture. Then again that could be because I'm not so mechanically inclined - perhaps other readers may find it easier to figure it out. Overall, a great book for children and adults alike, an even bigger treat for those that are into steampunk fiction. This is a great start to a very exciting series and I'm definitely looking forward to reading the second book (which in fact, I have taken out of the library recently).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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 ability. Four short years later, Modo shows advanced intellectual ability. He is able to read, complete complex mathematical equations, and study languages. Mrs. Finchley, a governess, has been hired by Mr. Socrates to care for him and Tharpa, an Indian man, has been retained to teach him combat skills. The only stipulations on Modo's life are that he cannot leave the three rooms that Mr. Socrates has declared as his and that he must concentrate only on studies that will increase his intelligence. Though he can feel and even see a protrusion on his back, he is not allowed to see himself until at five, when he is given a mirror by Mr. Socrates. Modo is devastated by what he sees. His face, in fact his whole head, is deformed. When Modo turns fourteen, Mr. Socrates finally allows him out of his rooms. Unfortunately, the journey that Mr. Socrates takes him on is not the gift he had hoped it would be. On the train to London, Mr. Socrates informs him that he will be aiding in the protection of England. His first task is to survive on the London streets without warning or help. As the story progresses, Modo succeeds in that first task, so Mr. Socrates and a secret society called the Permanent Association send him on more difficult and dangerous assignments. Together with another agent, fifteen-year-old Octavia Milkweed, he undertakes a series of adventures in an effort to save the grandson of the queen. Slade's gripping tale touches the heart, and readers will root for Modo and Octavia as they show the adults around them that loving others and offering mercy are among the strongest traits people should desire. The most important theme in the book is that physical appearances do not always reflect a person's heart.
Lindsey_Miller More than 1 year ago
To be honest, I was a little disappointed in this book. Perhaps it's that my hopes were so high to begin with, but they weren't quite met. Given the overview, there was certainly a recipe for an excellent tale-steampunk, Victorian England, the hunchback of Notre Dame as the main character, but as a teenager, and having been raised completely differently-but the execution was a little lacking. Specifically, I felt like the story was rushed, and Slade didn't take the time to relish in the scenes, the action, the science, etc. Give it a hundred to two hundred more pages, and I think the whole story would really come alive. I would care more about the characters. They would have a bit more time to develop, especially Modo, who could use a lot more writing about his magical power as well as his training. We need more character backstory, more development, and more description about everything involved. The ending certainly leaves it open for a sequel or a few, and I'm hoping they get better with each installment. -Lindsey Miller, www.lindseylibrary.com