Korman, Gordon. Payback (Masterminds #3)
March 7th 2017 by Balzer + Bray
ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central
We left the children of Serenity in several bad situations in Criminal Destiny, (the adventure starts with Masterminds) and we pick up right where we left off. Amber and Malik are trying to escape the Serenity police, and are rushing down rapids, only to end up on the top of a truck speeding down the highway! Tori and Eli are also on the run, and end up finding a bit of comfort at a warehouse full of Girl Scout cookies, some of which they sell to get some money for their adventures. Malik finds out that the criminal from whom he is cloned, Gus Alabaster, has been released from jail because he is dying, and hunts him down. Gus believes that Malik is his long lost son because of the resemblance, and so a fair amount of time is spent doing errands and hanging out with Gus. Tori and Eli head to California in search of an actor who bears a striking resemblance to Eli, and uncover some very odd information about his cloning. When the children can't get any satisfaction from Tamara Dunleavy, who still feels she wasn't being evil, and see a news report that a criminal who has been in jail for twenty years is linked to a crime in a resort in the Bahamas, the group realizes that the adults who were running Project Osiris have escaped New Mexico and are hanging out in luxury. Using their criminal skills to charter a plane with stolen money and to liberate a boat to take them to the island, Malik, Tori, Eli and Amber find the other children. What is the best thing to do when you are a clone of a criminal being raised by morally suspect scientists?
Korman knows his way around adventure and humor, and both are worked into Payback in amusing ways. When you're in a rural area, is it a good idea to steal motorcycles from a biker gang? Why not?! If you've been tossed about in river rapids, is plopping down on top of a speeding truck a good idea? Absolutely! While most tween readers (hopefully!) won't get a chance to have adventures like this, it's fun to imagine, and Korman has a great feel for what will amuse middle grade readers.
The world building for Project Osiris and Serenity is very complete, and the children's adventures while trying to locate the criminal from whom they were cloned are both exciting and intriguing. The twist with the Hollywood actor was one that I didn't see coming.
Adventure tales that weave in a bit of science fiction or fantasy are always appealing, and the Masterminds series will be enjoyed by readers of Peterfreund's Omega City, Salane's Lawless or Salerni's The Eighth Day. All of these tales pique the imagination and are great to think about while walking to school-- not that I have ever plotted how to escape mad scientists on MY walk in to work!
Man, Mr. Korman's mind must be a fascinating place! And he must write 20 hours a day! He is my hero.