Pages - Menu


Friday, February 21, 2014

Pin It


Book Review: Nickel Plated by Aric Davis

This book came to me in the best possible way: a friend recommendation. A coworker whom I know I have a lot of common interests with recommended me this book after she devoured it in one sitting, and to sweeten the deal she lent it to me on my Kindle (thanks, Joanna), so I knew I had no choice but to dive in. I like to think of myself as someone who doesn't have a "type" of book that I gravitate towards, but my first couple of reviews contradict that statement. This book intrigued me immediately because it was completely different than anything I had read in the last year. The description promised a light hearted mystery centered around a unique narrator, whose character surprised me on every page. My only difficulty in writing this review will be that I do not want to give too much away, because I am literally begging you to read this book. But I will do my best!
Our story revolves around Nickel, a mysterious and painfully witty twelve year old who could easily solve a mystery alongside Sherlock Holmes, or better yet without him. Nickel doesn't have much of a background, but we know enough to understand how and why he lives the life he does. A pot-farmer by day and a private investigator by night, Nickel has figured out exactly how to lay low. A foster kid who broke out of the system, Nickel knows every trick in the book to make sure that no one in his town figures out that he lives alone, and does not attend school. The intricate detail by which he achieves this goal is impressive, and the holes are few and far between. Nickel takes his inspiration from the Noir detectives of the big screen, and his vocabulary and thought processes are a clear sign of their influence. The choice to give Nickel such a unique voice pays off beautifully in this novel, and I think the author achieved something really impressive with this choice. It is a difficult thing to write a child whose vocabulary and speech mirror that of a 40s detective without stepping too far out of reality. Nickel certainly doesn't speak like the 12 year olds that I have been around recently, but there was never a doubt in my mind that this particular 12 year old would speak this way. Nickel comes through as a logical, no nonsense thinker but he also maintains the emotional turmoil that seems inevitable for an abused orphan to have. I was really impressed with how well his character was thought out.

Nickel makes the money that keeps him afloat by solving mysteries. Word of mouth is his sole form of advertisement for his services, but that's more than enough. Nickel has a particular soft spot for children in need of assistance, and he refuses to accept payment from them. We learn this when Nickel gets a call from Arrow, a beautiful young girl who contacts him when her sister, Shelby, goes missing. Nickel and Arrow join forces to find Shelby, and Nickel finds himself getting more emotionally involved in this case than any other case before it. Through the investigation, we learn a bit about Nickel's dark past, and this blends nicely with the present day mysteries that are being solved.

Although this story promises a good mystery, I found myself to be more interested in the character development of the young people that we meet in the novel. The investigation itself is compelling, and I was invested from start to finish, but the moments that the reader spends solely with Nickel in between the action are just as -if not more- intriguing. His complex character details are woven in a masterful way, and I found myself highlighting quotes from his inner dialogue on almost every page (I would reference back to a couple of these quotes, but the loan ended on the book and I cannot access the notes I made anymore ... sigh). That being said, I was entertained on every single page of this story.

My instinct was to label this book as "cute" and "sweet", which is kind of insane because this story deals with very heavy subject matter. Without spoiling too much, I should say that for young readers, this book may deal with issues too dark for children, but it does so tastefully and respectfully. With that in mind, I was surprised to find that I finished this book feeling optimistic and warm, which is a huge compliment to Aric Davis. He was able to shed light on an extremely horrific phenomenon that is a sad reality for our society, without losing the charm and hopeful nature that the book aims to achieve. It's safe to say that I will be referencing back to this book if I ever find myself writing a teenage boy.

Title: Nickel Plated

Author: Aric Davis

Genre: YA Mystery

Recommendation: YES

Best Reader Audience: Boys and Girls, Men and Women, Children and Adults (but mainly teens)

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 Bunny Bums!
Want to solve the mystery? Use the link below and your purchase will support The Lone Book Club.


  1. Awesome review! You make a great point about the in-between moments with Nickel being even more intriguing than the central mystery - that is an amazing feat for an author to pull off. And about writing teenage boys as well - I struggle with this a lot and this book is a great reference. It's such a deceptively impressive book. I'm so glad you liked it!

    1. Thanks so much Joanna! I can't thank you enough for recommending this book. I really loved it. I expect more recommendations in the future :).