This is a book that I read as in late elementary/middle school (around mid 1990s). It was a paperback (mass market) novel of my aunt's and it seemed like it could have been published in the 80s to early 90s.

It is set in a fairly modern world. They referred to cars, desktop computers, telephones, etc. I recall that the premise is a boy (somewhere in the 10-15 age range) that discovers that he has a bit of control over magnetism. I think he is newly orphaned and is now living with someone new that he doesn't know very well.

A few details that I remember is when he is starting to learn about his powers, he practices lifting paperclips and having them stick to his finger (like to a magnetized screwdriver). For some reason I think his name starts with an "M".

I also recall a scene towards the end of the book, where the protagonist is crouching behind/under a desk and watching the antagonists as they are doing something. He ends up using his magnetism to save the day in a somewhat spectacular fashion, but couldn't say specifically how.

This is not a young Magneto, though.

Does anyone know what this could be?

  • Hello and welcome to SFF! Could you take a look at this guide and edit in any more details you may remember. Specifically you say you read it in school but we do not know when that was. Was the book published around the time you read it? etc.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 15:06
  • I didn't read it in school. I was just that age. And thanks for the pointer to the guide.
    – aepound
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 15:16
  • I think I know the story you're talking about, but I can't remember the title either. Does it end with him using his magnetism to erase a ton of data from some floppy discs?
    – DqwertyC
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


This may be The Secret Life of Dilly McBean, published in 1986.

From Amazon:

After being orphaned at an early age and spending years in boarding schools, Dilly begins a new life in a real house in a small town, developing secret magnetic powers under the tutelage of a kindly professor, until he is kidnapped by a madman who plans to control the world with a computer.Twelve-year-old Dilloway McBean, a wealthy orphan with strange magnetic powers, puts his magnetism to work as he matches wits with the dastardly Dr. Keenwit, a computer whiz out to steal Dilly's money and seize world power He's kidnapped by an evil/mad scientist, who wants to use his powers for evil.

While I don't have a specific quote, I remember from reading it that it ends with him using his magnetism to erase all of the antagonist's data, which is stored on magnetic discs. I think he also magnetically controls a bulldozer to destroy the antagonist's base, though that memory is a bit more vague.

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