Brass Monkeys by Terry Caszatt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Here's the big caveat: as an adult, I wasn't that impressed but if I were a middle school-age boy, this would be one of my favorite new reads. Why? Eugene's life is pretty awful (he gets expelled for pushing his former school principal off a stage... except he really didn't and if people would just listen to the truth they'd know he didn't do it) and his mother takes them to the wilds of Minnesota, just as a blizzard hits. When school starts, it's even worse than he thinks, and there's something definitely off about the teachers (the whole "monkeymind" thing, for example).
Soon he's reluctantly playing hero in an underworld Worst School Ever land, complete with eraser guns and mournful music class. His mission is to take a book ("Brass Monkeys") to the mysterious McGinty, who might be in the Blue Grotto... or perhaps he's moved on. The place names and language are inventive, and it's all right up a boy's alley!
For me, however, the ending got a bit confusing and there was a sense that too much had been tossed into the blender. However, as I'm not the target audience, I'm sure that's ok.
Copy provided by publisher.