Monday, March 21, 2016

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: MASTERMINDS

I wasn’t sure I would like this Gordon Korman story, but I really enjoyed the mystery, as well as the adventure of trying to figure out why the main characters were special. This is another book from the short list for the 2016 Silver Birch Fiction Awards from the Ontario Library Association.

Description from the publisher:  

Eli Frieden lives in the most perfect town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. Honesty and integrity are valued above all else. The thirty kids who live there never lie—they know it’s a short leap from that to the awful problems of other, less fortunate places.

Eli has never left Serenity . . . why would he ever want to? Then one day, he bikes to the edge of the city limits and something so crazy and unexpected happens, it changes everything. Eli convinces his friends to help him investigate further, and soon it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. The clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, connecting their ideal crime-free community to some of the greatest criminal masterminds ever known. The kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents.

Masterminds was written by Gordon Korman and published by HarperCollins in 2015.

My Take:

 The concept behind this book intriguing and makes for a fun and exciting adventure. I got hooked on the mystery of what was different and special about this group of kids and my curiosity kept me reading. One of the challenges of reading this book for me was all the different characters and perspectives. At times, I had to check the chapter heading to remind myself which character’s perspective I was reading. But mostly, I was just wanting to see what would happen next!

A writer could learn about keeping the story moving and building a mystery from reading this book. For me, the most interesting thing about it is the uniqueness of the concept, and how he built a compelling story to go with it.

Opening Line:

“It’s a one-in-a-million shot, and we nail it.”


“When you spend thirteen years with the same two-and-a-half dozen kids, losing somebody is like cutting off a finger.”

“One minute you think you have your life figured out. The next it shatters like a glass bowl hitting a stone patio.”

“I guess when it’s your only chance to have a real life, you keep putting one foot in front of the other, regardless of how much it hurts.”

Other Info

Gordon Korman has written more than 80 middle grade and teen novels since age 14, when he wrote his first book.

The second book in this trilogy, Masterminds: Criminal Destiny was released in February 2016.

Gordon Korman talks about his writing and stories in this recent interview from The Bridgehead Radio:


  1. Sounds like a compelling mystery that's really different. Not read anything by this author yet. I probably should.

    1. Natalie, I'm sure you'll read one at some point - he's written so many! Kids seem to really like his books.

  2. Thanks for the interview link. Kormon has always been a favorite of mine but have not read this one yet. Thanks to your insightful review I will not wait much longer to find a copy.

  3. Korman is amazing! More than 80 books since he was 14!! It sort of made me think a little of The Giver--this supposedly idyllic community that hides a secret. I'll be looking out for it.

  4. Gordon Korman is amazing. I still remember how impressed I was when I read THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING AT MACDONALD HALL, his first book (though I thought he was 13 when he wrote it). And he's definitely matured as a writer since then. Some of his books are just okay, but some are excellent. Like SCHOOLED.

    1. Yes, I agree. Some of the ones I've read I liked, some were so-so for me. But kids seem to love his books!


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