How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel: 12/05/16
How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel by Jennifer Brown is a middle grade story of a school that competes in everything and never wins. Luke Abbott is happy just playing video games with his friends after school but he's being forced to join the school's robotics team to put his video game skills to use.
So reluctant Luke is thrown in with a close knit club of (from his point of view) oddballs. There's the bossy girl who has been secretly bullying Luke since second grade, the two Jacobs who act like twins but aren't, a boy obsessed with sunflowers, a girl who does everything with her feet, and the mysterious titular character who is the glue of this unlikely group.
Lunchbox Jones reads like a simplified retelling of Robotics;Notes which is a Japanese visual novel, a console game, and an anime series. In the anime a group of high schoolers fight to restart the robotics club, the goal being to finish large fighting robot. This is all done against the background of a world recovering from a time when nearly everyone blacked out. The club through its research into robotics stumbles upon the ugly truth behind the incident and its lasting effects.
Now this book has the struggling club and the betrayal by one of its own but it's otherwise pretty tame. Mostly it's about the quirky characters and Luke finding to his own chagrin that he fits in just fine. It just needs more of a hook to pull everything together.