Under the Radar (Tom Swift, Young Inventor, Book 6)

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Under the Radar (Tom Swift, Young Inventor, Book 6) Book Poster Image
Adventure series is formulaic but satisfying.

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

Tom's father is kidnapped; two people are injured in vehicle crashes.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's little of concern here -- just some mild violence and a couple of injuries in vehicle crashes.

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What's the story?

While Tom and his dad are hiking in a state park, Mr. Swift is kidnapped. Tom is eager to use the resources of Swift Enterprises to go after him, but the FBI agent in charge of the investigation warns him to stay out of it, and the company's head of security is arrested. Of course, none of that can stop Tom -- it just makes things a bit harder.

Using an invisibility suit he invented, his advanced computer (Q.U.I.P.), and his father's new drilling machine, Tom hunts for clues. He's joined by his sister, Sandy, and his arch-rival, Andy Foger, whose father is accused of the kidnapping. But the clues seem to be leading in an unexpected direction -- to the FBI itself.

Is it any good?

Though no one's definition of great literature, this book, like the others in the series, is fun, exciting, reasonably well-written, and the stuff of boyhood fantasies. The stories highlight positive values such as the benefits of brains, learning, and hard work. While adults may be contemptuous of the books' formulaic simplicity, they can be the launching pad for a lifelong love of reading -- and science.

Through four previous series, teen scientist/inventor/adventurer Tom Swift -- packaged by a syndicate under the pseudonym Victor Appleton -- has thrilled readers with his brilliance and derring-do. Tom has always been the geek's hero, combining the demeanor of a Boy Scout, the exploits of a reckless adventurer, and the soul of a scientist. In this fifth series, the stories are told for the first time in first person, and they've been updated (cell phones figure prominently, and Tom addresses the reader as "dude"). But perhaps the most significant change is that the enemy is TRB, a terrorist group opposed to technology.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the inventions in the book. Are they realistic? Could they be possible? What do you think all the technobabble really means? Also, what do you think of Tom teaming up with his enemy?

Book details

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