Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine
Author: Jessica Crichton
Length: 260 pages
While I’m a bit older than the target demographic, I’m not sure I was ever a fan of the kind of “gross-out” tropes that seem to permeate the middle-grade genre. My main problem with Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine is that it relies on this trope in spades. At the very least, it takes this slightly “uncultured” format and takes it to its logical extremes. After all, the amount of accented pidgin adds flavor to this parallel universe, even if it sacrifices some readability. In the end, though, it’s still a pretty good story even if the plot points felt pretty standard for the genre.
Aside from some of the content being gross, there were several proofreading errors scattered throughout this book. Not enough to be distracting but enough to be noticeable. I’m also not sure the more complicated “twist” near the end is understandable for the target age range, considering the scientific knowledge needed to understand what was being explained. The attempt was certainly there to bring it down to a middle-grade level, but I think there’s a loss of a lot of the nuance of this adult technology in favor of covering up a few plot holes.
I picked this book up and read it in fits and starts and was always able to remember vaguely what was happening and who the characters were, so there is some memorability to it. The trick with the twist ending is that everything leading up to it almost felt like filler. Sure, a few key events needed to happen to get there, but there seemed to be a lot of time spent chasing or being chased that didn’t add much in terms of plot development (there was a bit of character development, so it wasn’t entirely wasted).
A “gross-out” middle-grade for those who are into it, I give Dr. Fixit’s Malicious Machine 3.5 stars out of 5.