Eli Frieden lives in the town of Serenity where there is no dishonesty and everyone is kind. The thirty kids that live there have everything they want materialistically and socially, but not everyone is emotionally healthy or content. Malik thinks the town is too happy. Amber tries too hard to be perfect. Hector gets into trouble following Malik. Eli wants to explore with his friend Randy. When Randy takes Eli to see a sports car, he falls mysteriously ill ending up in the hospital. When he wakes up, Randy has moved away leaving a cryptic message as Eli uncovers the mysteries of Serenity with his friends.
The beginning character development has many different points of view. I thought this sacrificed depth keeping me from identifying or caring about any of the characters. Eli seems to be the main one I was supposed to get hooked with but he was sort of boring and his internal thoughts too few and far between. Normally, I like Gordon Korman's character development. I think it is a strength of his, but this crew was too forgettable for me.
The plot had some twists, some conveniences, and some unbelievable parts. The start was slow as all the characters are introduced but then the action picks up and goes gung-ho. There is an adult that helps the kids, but it is unclear how much she knows about what is going on in Serenity. She added an interesting element to the plot that isn't resolved in the end. The main twist is a great premise and once that was revealed toward the story's end, I was really interested. I think the sequel will be much more engaging because it will address the origins of why the kids in Serenity are "special." At least that seems to be the direction the plot will go.
Gordon Korman is coming to our school next week. I am going to quick read, "Swindle," so I can gush about a book. The students love that one and "Gifted." This one fell short for me, but I am interested in the sequel. Although if it is written with a cliffhanger ending... well, just picture me chomping on the book.