With many young adult books being about apocalyptic happenings and violence amongst the younger generation, Chad Morris’s Cragbridge Hall trilogy is a breath of fresh air for parents and older readers everywhere. The first in the trilogy, The Inventor’s Secret, is a promising start to a fantastical adventure that should have come out for readers to enjoy years ago, but better late than never.
The Inventor’s Secret introduces the readers to a very prestigious school for young geniuses that seems to be like a dream university mixed with Hogwarts without the magic. This school was named after a brilliant man named Oscar Cragbridge who invented a machine called The Bridge that can allow anyone access to historical records through holograms. Not only can students watch historical events happen before their eyes, there are machines that allow students to project the images they are seeing in their minds while reading a book or holograms of mountains in gym class that students can actually climb and so much more.
The year is 2074 and we now bring in Oscar’s twin grandchildren: Abby and Derick Cragbridge. They are both at a middle school level, but Derick is considered a genius while Abby believes she is just average intelligence and that there is nothing special about her. Two days into beginning their first semester at Cragbridge Hall, Abby and Derick’s grandfather and parents go missing. Now the twins must save their family and, at the same time, the whole world.
So much good is packed into this book it is hard to believe more can happen in the next two of the trilogy. Though Cragbridge Hall acts more like a university than anything, this story is very similar to the story told in Disney’s Big Hero 6: it encourages children to pursue education and knowledge. Many adults, both young and old, can vouch for how children feel about school when they’re young: school is pointless, boring, and nothing they learn will be used in their lives. However, after one completes his or her schooling (especially after graduating from college), one knows so much more and can appreciate more. Look at what Morris accomplished with his novel: he made history exciting. That can be hard to do for younger readers since many find history dull and nonsensical.
The characters are likeable and children could more than likely relate to Abby. Following a character, especially a young character who believes he or she is different and doesn’t fit in does sound cliché, but it could not be closer to the truth. Many tweens and teens nowadays suffer from peer pressure seemingly more than past generations, not to mention cyberbullying is now a part of the lives of the younger generation. These kids believe they have nothing to offer the world, never realizing their true potential. Abby has some great character growth as the story progresses and even her genius brother realizes that even he needs help sometimes. Abby and Derick’s grandfather is a fun character and he along with the twins’ parents stress the importance of family which seems to be dwindling in today’s society. Not to mention Abby’s friend Carol is a hoot. She can be viewed as a rather annoying character, talking almost as much as Donkey from Shrek, but she is a true friend and stays by Abby’s side through the good and bad.
For those who have not read the book, stop reading right here for a spoiler is coming up that cannot be ignored. Morris achieved a feat many writers, especially those in science fiction, have failed at countless times: he wrote time travel correctly. How many movies have been watched, video games have been played, and books have been read by countless people where the story just butchers the concept of time travel so badly that all one can do is shake his or head and say, “Fail”? Morris showed both sides of the spectrum: yes, it would be amazing to be a hero and right all the wrongs of the past, but then we as human beings would never learn from past mistakes and probably make even worse ones in the future. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it” could not ring any clearer with truth in this story.
For a trilogy meant for kids perhaps between the ages of eleven and thirteen years, The Inventor’s Secret proves to be an enjoyable story for adults as well. The story focuses on many good things: always having someone there even if one feels alone, the importance of family, having the faith that one can do anything one sets his or her mind to, etc. These are but a few of the lessons young readers can take away from the story and older readers can share with their children. And all of the aforementioned information is just in the first story alone along with much more that readers will only discover once they pick it up and read it. What does Morris have in store for The Avatar Battle and, his recently published, The Impossible Race?