Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Gordon Korman
Eli Frieden lives in the most perfect town in the world, Serenity, New Mexico, where there is no crime, nothing bad ever happens, and honesty and integrity are valued above everything else. Then, Eli tries to slip out of town with his mischievous best friend, Randy, and becomes really sick before being rescued by the security team from the one business in town. Randy is sent to a boarding school in Colorado leaving a message left which gets Eli thinking and wondering about many things in Serenity. Pretty soon a group of classmates are investigating how things work around town and wondering what is going on. The friends discover that they are part of a scientific experiment to explore whether genes or environment have a stronger effect on human development. Each of the kids is cloned from a murderer’s DNA! Feeling betrayed, Eli and his friends decide they must leave town and find Randy in Colorado. They manage to elude their parents and the security team and reach Colorado.
Gordon Korman possesses a talent for writing fiction for a tween and older audience. The book is fast paced and the storyline develops quickly with one discovery after another by the friends. Each character is realistically portrayed and well-developed. The reader will appreciate the strengths and weaknesses that each possesses and can recognize in them real people that he or she knows. The characters find themselves in a unique and complex situation and must decide how they will individually and collectively deal with it. The book is well-paced and will keep the reader engaged until the last page when suddenly he/she is left wanting more. This reviewer is hoping the sequel arrives soon!