What if the leading minds in technology were not Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but giants and monsters with their own periodic table and laws of physics? In The Creature Department, author Robert Paul Weston imagines a world in which strange beasts and other … things are society’s best and brightest creators.
Science geek Elliott and his kinda friend Leslie get the thrill of a lifetime when they are invited to tour the research and development headquarters of DENKi-3000, a technology company located in their otherwise boring town. The top-secret department is overseen by Elliott’s uncle Archie, and the two 12-year-olds are shocked to discover that it is staffed entirely by creatures, including a French fairy-bat named Jean-Remy, a lovable giant named Gugor, and Harrumphey Grossman, who is just a hairy head. The ensemble cast has to work together to save DENKi-3000 from a corporate takeover.
Weston excels at creature character development, and his imagination is in enjoyable overdrive with things like the periodic table of intangibles (which contains thousands of feelings ranging from intuition to an insatiable hunger for brains), an expectavator (an elevator that runs on hope), and endlessly entertaining wordplay (one creature creates a telepathetic helmet instead of a telepathic one, resulting in many tears).
While Weston delivers on kid-friendly elements like wonder and zaniness, the narrative lacks dimension and depth. The creatures’ coexistence with humans is fascinating but never fully explored, and conflicts are dealt with so swiftly readers may be left wondering why they happened at all.
The Creature Department is admittedly more style than substance, but all the razzle-dazzle will likely captivate tween fantasy and humour buffs who appreciate a bit of cinematic flair.