Masterminds by Gordon is a fun sci-fi/mystery that I started promoting to my sixth graders as soon as I had finished it. Many 7th and 8th graders have enjoyed it as well, but it especially speaks to those firmly planted in middle grade books.
Eli lives in the idyllic town of Serenity, NM with 184 other people. Well, 183, now that his best friend Randy has been sent away to live with his grandparents (official story). In reality, Randy is really at a boarding school (a secret he shares with Eli in a mysterious note). After this revelation, Eli becomes suspicious of the workings of the Serenity, which he had never left in his entire life until a bike ride out of the city limits left him not only physically ill but resulted in his being hauled back by security guards. For example, he begins to suspect that the town’s WiFi is providing kids with altered information from Google, Wikipedia, and the like, and he wonders if the town’s security guards are there just to keep people safe or if they have a more sinister purpose. So Eli enlists his friends, Malik, Hector, and Tori work together to discover Serenity’s secret–and it’s a whopper!
Spoiler Alert: The children are the subjects of Project Osiris–a scientific experiment in which they were cloned from serial killers and brought up in a peaceful, carefree world so all the adults in town could determine whether environment could overcome heredity. This is quite an action-packed thriller for the middle grade set. The ending is a cliffhanger times 10; however, the second book Criminal Destiny has already been published so readers can cruise right into that one.