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What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World

Review

What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World

You know those discarded couches on the sidewalk? The ones you assume are garbage or for the neighborhood junk collector? Well, 13-year-old friends River, Freak and Fiona thought they knew about those couches, too. Which is why they thought nothing of sitting on the perfectly normal looking couch --- ignore that rip and bloodstain --- while waiting for the school bus one morning. But it turns out that the kids were wrong about the couch and pretty much everything else they thought they knew in Henry Clark’s debut novel, WHAT WE FOUND IN THE SOFA AND HOW IT SAVED THE WORLD.

"Clark’s ideas are wonderful! The premise of the book makes for a wacky sci-fi adventure with quite a few clever details."

River and his best friend, Freak, live in the all-but-abandoned Sunnyside housing development. The only other two occupied residences belong to Fiona’s family and then the giant and creepy Underhill mansion. Sunnyside is just about empty because it borders the Rodmore Chemical Plant, which is the site of a dangerous and toxic underground coal-seam fire that has been burning for 12 years. Nicknamed “Hellsboro,” the land around Rodmore is charred and wasted. The couch, it turns out, is even stranger than living next to a poisoned wasteland.

The couch is, in fact, a computer named Guernica (it also displays Picasso’s masterpiece), and it is actually part of a set that lives in the Underhill mansion. Nanotechnology links the couch to other furniture, a domino and the disembodied intelligence of a woman from another planet. The woman is named Miranda, and she and her brother Alf are trying to stop the evil Edward Disin from the strange planet Idorsia from re-opening a portal and taking over Earth. While Disin experiments on the townspeople of Cheshire through cell phones and genetically modified foods, Alf hopes to thwart his plans with a zucchini-colored crayon.

The three kids are recruited by Alf, Miranda and Guernica to save their planet, but to do so, they will need to survive an ax-wielding ghost, deadly gases, the unstable ground of Hellsboro, an internet toy auction, a ride in a toilet shaped hot-air balloon and discover the truths about their family members that finally come to light.

Clark’s ideas are wonderful! The premise of the book makes for a wacky sci-fi adventure with quite a few clever details. There is a real intelligence to the story, too, that readers of all ages will appreciate. The action is fast-paced and both funny and heart-stopping. Clark’s prose is not always as engaging or gripping as it could be, but WHAT WE FOUND IN THE SOFA AND HOW IT SAVED THE WORLD succeeds nevertheless. This is an author with a vivid imagination and unique vision and one whose future books are sure to be even better than this entertaining debut.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on June 19, 2013

What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World
by Henry Clark

  • Publication Date: July 2, 2013
  • Genres: Adventure
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316206660
  • ISBN-13: 9780316206662