by M.M. Vaughan
"Delve into the extraordinary abilities of the twelve-year-old mind in this thrilling start to a middle-grade series that expands the possibilities of power.
No one has any confidence in twelve-year-old Christopher Lane. His teachers discount him as a liar and a thief, and his mom doesn’t have the energy to deal with him. But a mysterious visit from the Ministry of Education indicates that Chris might have some potential after all: He is invited to attend the prestigious Myers Holt Academy.
When Christopher begins at his new school, he is astounded at what he can do. It seems that age twelve is a special time for the human brain, which is capable of remarkable feats—as also evidenced by Chris’s peers Ernest and Mortimer Genver, who, at the direction of their vengeful and manipulative mother, are testing the boundaries of the human mind.
But all this experimentation has consequences, and Chris soon finds himself forced to face them—or his new life will be over before it can begin."
I really liked this book, and I think middle-schoolers will LOVE it! It is a quick and exciting read. The characters are fun and diverse, the plot is original, and the whole time I was reading it I was thinking about what a fun movie this book would make. Picture Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi or Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill (without all the crudeness) as Ron and John. Awesome!
I really liked the main character and his loyalty and integrity. He is plucked from an incredibly dysfunctional home (I have hopes his mother may eventually improve) and put into an elite school. He was struggling in his old school, although the teacher and headmaster were a little (no a lot) over the top, but Chris excels at his new school, where his particular abilities are appreciated. There are a lot of topics in this book that could encourage good discussions. The Myers Holt Academy is a very skillfully drawn setting (again - great movie material), and it made me want to be a student there myself. There is action and suspense, and a reason at the end to be excited for the sequel, without an annoying cliff-hanger. It's just a really fun book. Read it and see who you picture in a movie version :) . Movie producers - take note.
Areas of concern:
A handful of the *d* word.
Creepy, evil twins.
An abusive home and school environment for the main character at the beginning.
The main character steals money for food, and then technically steals from cab drivers by not paying them. (I know I said he had integrity in my review, but you'll see what I mean when you read it.)
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 8-12
School Library Journal - Grades 5-8