Penny, Claire and Ray are back from their supervillained shenanigans over the holidays and they are now back at school.
And they are bored. So very bored.
So when a supervillain offers them the chance to explore space and visit the moons of Jupiter, of course they jump at the chance!
Robots, alien goo, warring factions, oppressive automatons, and so much more – Penny and her friends are deeply involved in all of it.
Penny and her minions in the Infernal Machine are back – and I have been looking forward to this one.
This book takes the story to a completely different world – literally. The supervillains go into space using Penny’s magnificent inventions to explore new world and discover a really wide cast of characters and factions around Jupiter’s Moons
The world here is really impressive in its complexities. We have so many different factions with a range of different plots and motivations and agendas which don’t always work together. Each society/faction is very different and there’s a lot of storyline elements from each one – as well as characters who either cross the line between the different factions or draw upon lines from different faction – and even have motivations simply above and beyond their factions. I like that in particular because it’s always tempting just to make characters little avatars of the factions they represent.
Absolutely nothing about this is simple. Even the hallucinating space goat. No, really.
There’s also some really interesting interaction between Penny and another super-powered being she finds there, Remmy. I like how Penny has been established as powerful and special – but she still has peers and equals. I like the complexity of their relationship with reasonable misunderstandings, competition, friendship, jealousy and just a lot of very real emotion as well as some very pointed lessons about underestimating people and assuming their own super capabilities
If I have a complaint it’s because this book is TOO complex. Too many factions, too many people, too many separate agendas – and all of it completely introduced at once while the gang try to learn it all and wallow in the middle of it while pushing a storyline. And I wasn’t even sure what the storyline was. What were the Infernal Machine doing? What was their actual agenda there? I honestly didn’t know and I did feel kind of lost and confused more than once as I tried to remember who all these people where and, ultimately, why the Infernal Machine should care. In some ways they felt like a clumsy insert causing a lot of problems as they plunged into a situation they knew little about
And increasingly I think that’s the point – though that may be inferring more complexity than intended. Penny and her friends jump into a situation they barely understand, absolutely determined to HELP and make things better for the locals. And they certainly do improve some things with Penny’s super powers. But at the same time they cause a lot of unintended problems and even come close to outright disaster simply because they have absolutely no idea of what they are working with. In a way it’s an excellent depiction of how power + good intentions + ignorance can lead to utter disaster.