Book Review - How to Survive Middle School and Monster Bots

CaptureAuthor: Ron Bates

Print Length: 220 pages

Publisher: Zonderkidz (September 16, 2014)


“First, before I say anything else, I want to make one thing clear: some of my best friends are machines. Seriously. There’s the clock radio that wakes me up in the morning, the toaster that makes me breakfast, the electric toothbrush that scrubs my braces, the computer that does my homework, and the night light that’s there…” – Howard Boward



Howard Boward is a nerd and proud of it. This much is true despite the painful tribulations it brings from “…angry, oversized, wedgie-obsessed jerks” that makes up a good percentage of the students in his school.

Howard also loves robots and spends endless hours tinkering with machine parts. His public robot demonstrations are not without hiccups (in the shape of destruction of family property), but Mum is always at hand to minimise the chaos engineered by these exhibitions as she happens to always know “... where the fire extinguisher is”.



Apart from tinkering with robots, Howard spends most of his time at school trying to be invisible to bullies, a task he fails at, mostly. However, one thing Howard or How-weird (a name given to him by his school tormentors) cannot stand is his nerd-rivals outshining him in the robot-invention department. So when Gerald “G-Force” Forster built Basket-bot, a robot that can dunk balls, Howard was determined to create something better.

Howard’s competition with G-Force leads to disaster as the robot he designs turns evil, creating its own monster bots. Together, these monster bots roam around the town, wreaking havoc on unsuspecting citizens. The book wounds up with Howard acknowledging his envy and soliciting help from unlikely quarters to quash the robot rebellion.



The dialogue style is easy on the eye and one of the best I have seen in terms of simplicity. It captures the mind of a middle school student trying overcome life’s challenges. The fantasy elements of the books are sketchy and it left me confused for a time, wondering how the evil robot developed the intelligence to duplicate itself. All in all, I enjoy the reading experience.


Upsides: Fantastic dialogues | Rounded characters | Delightful drawings

Downsides: Sketchy fantasy


Review copy was provided by HarperCollins Christian Publishing’s BookLook Bloggers.


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