Meet Misfits, Inc. Investigations: Peter, the Genius; Jake, the Athlete; Byte, the Computer Whiz; and Mattie, the “Magician.” These four talented teenagers don’t quite fit in with their peers, but they do manage to find true friendship with each other as they crack a mystery.
In their first case, the super-sleuths band together to clear Mattie’s grandfather, who stands falsely accused of stealing a million-dollar computer chip from a local science museum. When the FBI and local police can’t turn up any leads, the Misfits draw upon their own special talents to lead them to the thieves and solve the mystery of THE VANISHING CHIP. (from Amazon)
Okay, so, yeah, you’ve probably never heard of this book. It’s horribly dated, it’s not really popular, and it’s not particularly well written. I found it at one of the library book sales I went to last year, and while I don’t necessarily regret buying it I do feel kinda bad for it. It’s got a lot against it, and while the good parts don’t really overcome the bad, it wasn’t entirely horrible.
As with any book with computer and technology playing a big part in the plot, it all gets really dated really fast. 1998 was only 11 years ago, yet a lot has changed since this book was written. Programs used on Byte’s latptop, the “vanishing chip” which touted to be the size of a quarter, etc. etc.
I’m not ragging on it because of those things, though; I actually like reading older books and the technology used in them. It’s like a little retrospective, or a historical document. However, The Vanishing Chip isn’t yet old enough to be truly interesting historically. Maybe in a few more years it will be, but today it just reads old-fashioned and outdated. The characters spend around three chapters figuring out that the “vanishing chip” was actually– spoiler alert!– a hologram. That’s after watching it flicker out. Oh dear. Surely at least one of them has seen a Star Trek episode?
Besides the technology, though, there’s a pretty decent story about four friends who get into big trouble with the wrong people and have to get out of it without getting killed. The plot’s not sensational but it has some exciting parts, and I honestly did fear for the kids’ lives in the later parts. I didn’t really care about the characters besides that, but I did like the inter-group romantic entanglement hints. Made things more realistic! Also, the mystery itself was well done. Nothing too complicated, but it was twisted enough that I kept reading the book.
Not really recommended except for those who like reading about old tech. Younger kids today will probably find it stupid, unfortunately.
Read: February 2009