Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Published by Balzer + Bray

Summary:  (323 pages)  The kids of Serenity, New Mexico know they are lucky to live there.  There’s no crime, subjects like meditation and contentment are taught at school, and everyone in town has their own swimming pool.  But one day Eli and his best friend Randy ride their bikes to the outskirts of town.  Eli, who’s never left town, becomes violently ill, and is immediately picked up by Serenity security guards.  Two days later, Randy is sent away, barely being allowed to say good bye to Eli.  Gradually, Eli and four of his classmates uncover a horrifying conspiracy carried out by all the adults in town, including their own parents.  Told in alternating voices by the five kids, Mastermind ends with a cliffhanger that promises at least one sequel.

Pros:  The kids go from “ignorance is bliss” to “trust no one” in 322 action-packed, plot-twisting pages.  The alternating points of view approach works well, as each character is flawed but immensely likeable.   There’s no one moment of revelation; instead, the kids individually and together uncover one clue at a time to put together the whole awful truth.

Cons:  Eli learns to drive on a stick shift truck with the whole town pursuing him?  You’ll have to suspend your disbelief once in a while to get through some of the narrow escapes.

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