Sunday 18 November 2012

The Brain Sucker

The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood (Walker Books Australia)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-1-921977-63-3
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Callum is a paraplegic who has just turned thirteen. As a birthday gift, Rose, his grandmother and career has given him a new wheelchair that will change his life – a Thunderkit X5, which enables him to have greater mobility and overcome obstacles that have hindered him till now.

Sophie is his best friend. She is inventive, imaginative and a quick-thinker. She is also a genius around the workshop she has where she ceaselessly creates interesting mechanisms of outlandish designs and uses.

Toby is known as Jinx because bad luck follows him everywhere. ‘My thumb starts doing this crazy dance! ’ he admits when bad things are about to happen.

Lester Smythe is a criminal genius. Bullying and his unhappy upbringing created the totally evil and emotionless man that he is. His great intelligence has been channelled towards destroying all kindness and goodness from the world. Towards this end he has successfully invented a brain-sucking machine that for years has been extracting all good emotions from children’s minds. The city has become filled with rude and cruel adults as a result. The extractions take the form of green pulsing blobs that live in a huge tank of water. Lester hasn’t yet found a way of destroying the energy in the blobs which, if they found a way of escaping, would find a way back to their owners.

It is when Rose receives a letter from the Welfare Department about a review of her custody of Callum that she goes to the city. Here she falls victim to Lester’s Brain Sucker, after which he discovers that Rose’s blob is the golden globe of goodness, the only thing that has control over the other blobs.

Sophie’s ingenuity, Callum’s Thunderkit, and a series of monumental catastrophes and hilarious incidents from Jinx continue through the book, as the three combine their talents to find a way through the chaos that ensues, and save the blobs and Rose from being destroyed.

The ending is a crescendo of images and nail-biting events that will leave the reader breathless. The book is a marvellous and humorous fast-paced adventure through the warring of good and evil. Its theme has many strings that are connected to the absolute importance of kindness and goodness in humankind, and a vision of the catastrophe that exists without these emotions.

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