An above-normal student and an all-around good kid, Eric can’t figure out his recent string of bad luck. The missing homework. The sudden problem with bullies. The strange noises only he can hear. Objects appearing out of thin air. This must involve something more than luck. But what?
Here Comes Mr. Trouble starts off suspenseful and never lets up. Every chapter leaves you hanging. Mr. Battles skillfully spins out a tale, tantalizing us with little bits of information at a time. A hint here. A small suggestion there. I was still writing out questions 40% of the way through the book! At one point, “Eric was angry, and he was annoyed, and he was frustrated.” And he blurts out, “I’m tired of no one telling me anything!” I admit, I was reaching the same breaking point when, just in time, Mr. Battles suddenly unleashed some significant, page-turning action.
You see, Eric has taken up with the Trouble family, and their name is no coincidence. But this specially-trained team is dedicated to fighting Makers, the particular breed of evil that suddenly has it in for Eric.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Usually, when I am asked to review a new book, it is someone’s first attempt at such an endeavor. And it shows. But Brett Battles has written several books for adults. And it shows. Anticipation, danger, pulse guns, talismans, sleep juice, enforced stupors, car chases and hand to hand combat create enough excitement for any middle-reader thrill seekers out there. All beautifully crafted.
This is certainly a plot-driven story. I identified with Eric easily, always being the good kid myself, but I never felt like I got to know any of the Troubles personally, or even Eric’s best friend Maggie. Also, while moments of droll humor fleck the story, other times the wit falls a little flat–not quite fully developed in the expressions or mannerisms of the speaker. And a couple times the action simply petered out at the end of a chase when I had expected it to develop into something more revealing.
But I did appreciate the tension between Trouble siblings vying for control of the family business. And I felt those moments of jealousy between Maggie and the Trouble sisters whenever Eric was concerned. And I absolutely LOVED the background given on the Troubles’ family history and their curse, as well as the excerpts taken directly from their manuals, reports and letters. Such documentation lends the family authenticity and makes the book feel like an actual client case.
Mr. Trouble ends with questions. Eric was a special. But what does this mean for the Makers? What does this mean for the Troubles? And what will happen now to Eric? Even the troubles don’t have answers, but it feels legitimate. Isn’t life like that?
I definitely recommend this book for readers, especially boys, age 9-13.