The Explosionist


This book is considered an “alternative history” rather than traditional historical fiction due to its presentation of advanced inventions (fuel cell automobile technology for one) and historical facts that don’t quite align with the textbooks. The main character, Sophie, is a student at a boarding school in Scotland during the 1930s. She is drawn into a mystery when her friend Mikael finds a medium dead and is arrested for her murder. Using her powers as a medium and stealth, Sophie uncovers political intrigue and a plot to reprogram emotions in the country’s girls, saving lives and finally finding her place in society.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

This is an engaging, fast read for young adults.

Content Awareness Factors:

I had a hard time with understanding the concept of an alternate history because it was not explained at the beginning of the book. I could not figure out if the book was historical fiction or fantasy. Finally, I read the author’s note, included at the end of the book. It would have been a lot less confusing had I read that first.

Big Kid Reaction

This book is very fast paced. I really liked the twists and turns that it took me on as I read. I wanted to continue reading to find out what would happen to Sophie and her friends.

Type of Book:
This is a young adult mystery for teens.
Educational Themes:

It would be interesting to read this book and then discuss which “historical” aspects were a real part of history and which were fictional. Students could do some sort of alternative history writing assignment-receive a certain historical era and be prompted to write a story using historical fact and fiction.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
12 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
11 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow, at least. It is an enjoyable read, but not something I would consider a “must read” or classic book. If a teen I knew was interested in mystery and historical fiction, this would be a great purchase for him or her!

Title The Explosionist
Author Jenny Davidson
Publisher HarperTeen, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2008
ISBN 9780061239755
Material Hard Cover
Cost $17.99
Genres Mystery
be the star you are Cybils
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