The book had three characters, with the main character being male. The cover art had the three (maybe two) of them at like a deserted carnival. There’s a kid with lighting powers and one with fire.

In the book it follows the main character who goes to this school and he finds this lab. And there’s a scientist in the lab trying to give kids powers or something like that. I think the word they used was alchemy. But yeah. Somewhere along the way, the scientist gets kidnapped, I think, and the three have to stop the other person and get back the scientist.

I don’t remember much but that’s a vague idea of the book.

  • Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this book, and when do you think it might've been published? Mar 29, 2022 at 23:36
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    Mar 29, 2022 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


Spell Robbers (2014) by Matthew J. Kirby...?

It's the first (and currently, only) book in the Quantum League series.

According to the Goodreads synopsis, the main character is male, and there's a scientist heading a science camp he's attending, who is subsequently kidnapped.

After Ben Warner is recruited to join a “science camp” led by the eccentric quantum physicist Dr. Madeleine Hughes, he quickly realizes it’s no regular science camp. Along with his new friend, Peter, Ben discovers the secret, powerful art of Actuation—the ability to change reality by simply imagining it differently.

When a mysterious group of men invade Dr. Hughes’s laboratory, abducting her and stealing her precious equipment, Ben and Peter are suddenly caught up in a turf war between dangerous actuators desperate for Dr. Hughes’s innovative technology. And as Ben and Peter are pulled into a perilous, hidden world full of impossibilities now made possible, will their combined powers be enough to save Dr. Hughes and vanquish their enemies before it’s too late?

From Edgar Award-winning author Matthew J. Kirby comes a fast-paced, boldly imagined tale of friendship, deadly adventure, and the infinite power of imagination.

The cover depicts three kids at a fairground. One of the kids appears to have lightning powers, and another, fire powers.

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I searched the Google Books preview, and didn't get any hits for the term "alchemy". However, both the Goodreads synopsis posted above, and following review, indicate that the term "actuate" is used in relation to the kids' powers.

When 12-year-old Ben joins an after-school science club, he has no idea that the price of membership will be the loss of everyone he loves.

Ben has always been a science nerd, but when his abilities in quantum mechanics prove to be more than just academic, it is only a matter of time before his proficiency makes him a target for some very dangerous people. Ben and his new friend Peter are recruited into the Quantum League, a group of special agents with the ability to bend matter to their will or to “actuate.” Actuators can create fire from the air, manipulate another’s emotions, or “detach” a child from his or her family, severing all connections and even memories. When a rival group kidnaps Ben’s mentor and steals a dangerous device, he agrees to help the League if they will reattach him to his mother. This high-energy spy story is enhanced by the addition of scientific theory (if rather unsteadily grounded) and authentic characters. Ben’s integrity, bravery and desire to forgo his special-agent status for his mother differentiate him from other familiar genre heroes. Unfortunately, uneven pacing, loose threads and a meandering plot are ultimately the story’s undoing. An open ending promises a sequel.

Refreshingly different in some ways but ultimately unsatisfying.

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