Korman, Gordon. Masterminds. Balzer & Bray, 2015.
Eli lives in the remote town of Serenity, where no one does anything wrong and there's never any crime or any problems. Even the streets are named for peaceful things: harmony, amity, etc. One day Eli and his friend try to ride out of town to explore the desert, and Eli is assaulted with throbbing pain. He's taken by helicopter to the hospital, and his friend is whisked away to his grandparents' home out of town. Before he leaves, Eli's friend leaves him a message: "There's something screwy with this town." Will Eli be able to figure out what is screwy here, and can he do it before he or the other kids in town suffer the consequences?
This book is part mystery, part action-adventure. Because the town is so squeaky-clean, there's no violence or profanity to worry about, but there's plenty of intense mystery as the kids try to work through what's going on. This book would make an excellent classroom or library read-aloud, and will be an easy one to book talk to my patrons. Strongly recommended.
Recommended for: middle grade
Red Flags: none (seriously; a kid gets in trouble for taking too many donuts, but that's about it)
Overall Rating: 5/5 stars
Read-Alikes: Poop Fountain!, What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World, The Mysterious Benedict Society