“The Whizbang Machine” by Danielle A. Vann

This novel revolves around a girl’s relationship with her grandfather, Jack, who left her in the wake of a family tragedy when she was eight years old. He returns when she is fifteen, bringing back their old, special relationship, along with a mysterious antique typewriter with a mission of its own and a tendency to shoot out garbled information, noise, light and electrical shocks. Hence the name of the novel.

A rather lengthy research session in the New York Public Library sets Elizabeth and her grandfather on the trail of their heritage, trying to discover the source of a fatal family curse. However Jack’s methods get increasingly desperate, even illegal, and Elizabeth has to wonder whether she should be going along with him. But their scavenger hunt keeps tossing them new tidbits of information, and she is pulled into the game again.

There is a lot of action and suspense in this story, some of it rather contrived. But once the main characters get to the Netherlands, the story gets moving, and the plot fits more neatly together as it moves to an exciting climax.

The strengths of the novel are the relationships between the main character and her mother and grandfather, and the action sequences in the final section. The painful personality clashes between people who love each other deeply are realistic, moving and integral to the development of the external conflict.

I am sorry that the lack of editing prevents me from rating this novel higher. There are simply too many misspellings, muddled sentences, faulty facts and awkward transitions, and an overall need for trimming of the manuscript. These all get in the way of the reader’s enjoyment of a great story.

Recommended for YA readers with the ability to skim through and pick up a good tale.

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)


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