Friday, November 16, 2012

Floors by Patrick Carman

Floors by Patrick Carman is a juvenile puzzle novel. Next to the young adult dystopia, the juvenile puzzle novel is probably the genre where I most easily get "genre fatigue." This one was not good enough to raise it above its peers.

Leo is the son of the handyman at the Whippet Hotel, the quirkiest hotel in New York City. Merganzer Whippet, the hotel's enigmatic founder, filled the hotel with theme rooms, wacky inventions, and a rooftop duck pond. Then he disappeared. Leo and his dad are doing the best they can to keep the hotel in working order, but it's difficult . . . especially when somebody seems to be sabotaging the hotel's delicate operational balance. Is it the surly front desk clerk? One of the guests? The shady developers who want to buy the Whippet and tear it down so they can build a "real" hotel on the prime real estate that the Whippet occupies? In the midst of the turmoil, Leo, his new friend Remi, and a few highly intelligent ducks discover a quest left behind by Merganzer Whippet himself. Will solving the mystery help them save the hotel?

There's something appealing for young readers about books with this sort of fantastical setting. The Whippet seems like a cross between a hotel and an amusement park, and I can see kids really getting into the descriptions of Leo's adventures in the room that's built like a giant pinball machine, or on the double helix high-speed elevator. This adult reader was less amused. The quest didn't really engage me -- I found myself really disliking the absent Merganzer, and the conclusion of the story solidified that opinion. The characters were all fairly flat, as well. I might recommend this book to young readers who can't get enough of books like The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Westing Game, but those books are definitely superior to this one.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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