Masterminds by Gordon Korman (2015)
Serenity, New Mexico has been named the best town to live in. There’s no crime and no poverty; honesty and integrity are valued above all else. Life is perfect for Serenity’s residents, and they know it and treasure it.
Eli Frieden has spent his whole life in Serenity; with everything he could possibly need or want right there in Serenity, there’s never been a reason to leave.
One day Eli and his best friend Randy take a bike ride to the city limits. Suddenly Eli is overcome with nausea and collapses from his bike. Luckily the Surety, the town’s security force known as the Purple People Eaters by the kids of Serenity, come to Eli’s rescue and get him medical attention.
After Eli recovers from his sickness, he learns that Randy is leaving Serenity to move in with his grandparents. The story doesn’t quite make sense to Eli. When Randy pulls out of his driveway to leave, his behavior strikes Eli as strange. Something seems off. Eli is convinced there’s something going on with Randy that he isn’t telling him. Once Randy is gone, Eli starts searching for clues from Randy.
He discovers a note from Randy that makes him begin to question if Serenity really is as great as it seems. Eli and his friends Tori, Malik, Hector, and Amber set out to uncover the truth about Serenity. They discover that the town has a lot of big secrets, and learn that there are few people they can trust, especially their parents.
SOME SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
What I liked: This book is told through multiple viewpoints. I love books like this as you get to know all of the characters a little bit better through the different perspectives. In this book especially you get to see how the assumptions other characters make about someone isn’t necessarily true or all that there is to that particular person’s story.
I’m a sucker for a good heist. I love all the planning that goes into attempting to do the impossible, the excitement of sneaking around while avoiding getting caught, and how each character uses his/her specialized skill set to aid the team. Eli and his friends must break-in and attempt covert surveillance as they seek to uncover the truth. There’s plenty of thrilling and suspenseful moments along the way as they try to avoid getting noticed or caught by their parents or the Surety.
What I didn’t like: The only qualm I had with this book is that we don’t find out what happens to Hector. I know Masterminds is the first in a series so I have no doubt that Korman will answer all questions in the subsequent books.
My opinion in summary: Masterminds has so many of the elements I like in books. It’s got suspense and thrill, characters with strong voice, and a captivating story. The book ends in a great place for the sequel to pick up. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next one to see what happens to Eli and his friends, and the rest of Serenity.
Overall rating: 10 out of 10