Masterminds by Gordon Korman
Rating: 3/4 stars
Masterminds, one of Gordon Korman’s more recent books, follows a group of kids in the seemingly perfect town of Serenity, New Mexico; free of crime and violence and, incidentally, the nation’s top producer of orange traffic cones. To say any more about the story would give most of it away, as the book is aimed at middle-grade readers and quite short. If you’re looking for a quick, funny read, you will probably enjoy this book.
Like many of Korman’s books, the story is one of teamwork and how a group of kids with quirky talents can work together to pull off an outlandish plan. Similar to his other books, such as the Swindle series, No More Dead Dogs, The Sixth-Grade Nickname Game, and The Chicken Doesn’t Skate, Korman takes a group of conflicting characters and forces them to work together through an outlandish situation. The story also has a somewhat suspenseful theme that moves beyond comedic elementary-school scenes to an action plotline not entirely unlike another series Korman has contributed to, the bestselling 39 Clues series, although this book strikes a happy balance between realistic middle-grade situations and international conspiracy.
The best part of this book was the plotline, which was a fascinating concept for a teen interested in forensic psychology and fairly original in middle-grade literature. Though the characters are not very well-developed, and the author makes things a bit too simple at different points, there are many hints to further aspects of the characters and plotline and there are sequels that will likely reveal more.