Masterminds Series by Gordon Korman
Summary from GoodReads:
From bestselling author Gordon Korman comes a thrilling new middle grade trilogy about a group of kids living in a Pleasantville-type town who discover a dark secret that connects them to some of the greatest criminal masterminds of their time.
Eli Frieden lives in the most boring town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. Only thirty kids live in the idyllic town, where every lawn is perfectly manicured and everyone has a pool and a basketball hoop. Honesty and kindness are the backbone of the community. There is no crime in this utopia.
Eli has never left town…. Why would he ever want to? But everything changes the day he and his friend Randy bike to the edge of the city limits. Eli is suddenly struck with a paralyzing headache and collapses. Almost instantly, a crew of security—or “Purple People Eaters,” as the kids call them—descend via helicopter. Eli awakens in the hospital, and the next day, Randy and his family are gone.
As Eli convinces his friends Tori and Malik to help him investigate Randy’s disappearance, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. As the clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, the kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents. So they hatch a plan for what could be the greatest breakout in history—but will they survive? And if they do, where do they go from there?
I have yet to read a book from Gordan Korman that I didn’t love. He writes great adventure books for tweens and teens that will always keep you on your toes. His plots usually pushes credulity but they are fast paced and interesting enough to keep even the most ardent reluctant reader hooked.
The story is told from multiple perspectives in alternating chapters. All of them are interesting, well developed and likable, even Hector Amani who tends to be annoying and self-centered.
Eli Frieden is the one who starts to figure out that something isn’t right about the town of Serenity. He is a very bright kid who is good with computers. He figures out that the kids have been getting false information from the ‘internet’ and from the teachers and adults, one night when there is an electrical storm and he finds the truth about the Boston Tea Party. From there he and his friends start to look more critically at their town and their parents. I like Eli the best I think, he tries to do what is right, but really struggles with the things that he learns about his town and his friends parents. He is also loyal to his friends, even when they maybe do things he doesn’t agree with.
Malik Bruder is the bad boy of the group. He often acts before he thinks and is at times sulky and surly to his friends. But he is also loyal to the group and the cause. He was the first to really understand the repercussions of what their parents had done. He was also the first to really come to terms with and reject what was expected of him.
Tori Pritel is an artist and also the best at lying and figuring out problems and the plans to solve them. She really lives up to her potential and is the one that keeps the group together and moving forward when needed.
Amber Laska has the hardest time letting go of Serenity and what was done there. She has the strongest conviction of what is right and wrong than anyone else in the group. She also guilts the others to feeling bad when they have to steal or break into a home in order to survive. She has a hard time reconciling it with herself and sometimes takes it out on her team mates.
The overall plot of the trilogy is a bit of a science fiction once you find out what is going on in Serenity. Once the kids escape the town it is pretty much non-stop action as they try to convince others of their plight while staying out of the clutches of the Serenity adults and the police. They often have to commit crimes, stealing and breaking and entering mostly, but they do it to survive and they don’t really harm anyone in the process. They also feel remorse for doing it and promise to themselves that when they can they will recompense the people they stole from. They also have to navigate a world that they really don’t understand, as they were lied to about the real the world most of their lives. Some of their reactions to things we take for granted are well done and make you think about things sometimes.
A perfect read for fans of action adventure books that will keep you on the edge of your seat and biting your fingernails as they jump from one adventure to another.