cover image Masterminds


Gordon Korman. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-229996-3

Several teens learn that their idyllic small-town existence is a sham in this first entry in Korman’s Masterminds series. Serenity, N.Mex., has the best standard of living in the country, with zero unemployment and total peace and prosperity. Thirteen-year-old Eli and his friends have never known anywhere else. Honesty, harmony, and contentment aren’t just valued in Serenity, they’re a way of life. Then Eli and the others start to notice odd things: when they try to leave town, they get sick; their Internet is remarkably sanitized compared to outside sites they accidentally come across; and some kids are considered special, while others are less so. After they discover the truth about why Serenity is so peaceful, they must face the fact that their lives have been ruled by a gigantic lie. Rotating among several young narrators, Korman builds tension as the mystery unfolds, leading to several surprise twists that upend the status quo. While an awful lot of dumb luck is involved in the kids’ discoveries, this tense, fast-paced story will have readers racing toward the cliffhanger ending. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)