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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.

Is anyone else noticing how quickly 2011 is flying by?  I mean really, it feels like only yesterday we were celebrating the holidays and next's February already.  *shakes head*  I suppose part of that has to do with the incredible amount of books that are coming out this year, a good portion of which are definitely anticipated by this reader as I'm sure they are for you.  This past weekend was definite a triumph in the reading category for me.  I was able to finish two books I had only started last week AND read a good chunk of another one I've been straining at the bit to read.  Yep, a well read reader is a happy reader.  Time to share one of those reads with you.  Ready?

The featured title today is from an author whose name many would recognize in the Children's Fiction genre, though this was my first encounter with his work.  It's also the release date for the title so we're celebrating its book birthday with a review.  Grab your noise makers, put on your funny hats, and wish a HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY to....

The Genius Files:

May I introduce you to Coke and Pepsi...McDonald.  Now before you even ask, no...that's not a new corporate takeover in the making or bid to drive rumors of some strange agreement between the companies; it's merely the names of our lead characters as given by their parents.  You see, they were expecting one child, a boy to be precise, and they were naming him Coke not after the fizzy drink (which in its diet version I LOVE very much) but after a solid product coming from the distillation of coal (check it out on Google or Wikipedia).  When the birthing process was over....Mrs. McDonald begged to differ and thus Pepsi was born (so to speak)!

If having names like these doesn't suit your fancy, no're in the same boat as them but after a while Coke and Pep (her nickname) were so far over it, any taunts were more amusing than irksome.  The twins have your typical sister brother relationship.  They annoy each other but deep down they are family and would do whatever was necessary to ensure their well being.  Good thing too because in their foreseeable future is quite a lot of butt saving (and kicking) thanks to a little something called "the Genius Files".  But what they are and exactly what they have to do with the twins is a least until drastic events bring their knowledge of the files from "need to know" to "better tell them now so they might help us out AND survive".  Too bad it's the beginning of summer vacation, aka their road trip across the U.S.A. on their way to a relatives wedding.  They're gonna miss all the "adventure" (read as "threats on their lives")....or will they?  Bad guys can travel too you know.  Yep...this is one family trip that's going to go down in history...secret history, but history nonetheless.

First things first....overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Seriously!  The writing is fluent; the story gracefully moves from page to page, chapter to chapter without missing a beat.  The reader is drawn in from the start by the characters themselves.  Coke and Pep (aka Pepsi) are a riot!  The fact that they don't develop a complex after all of the dangers that befall them is amazing in and of itself (think jumping off cliffs to escape certain doom and trying to save your life with SPAM -- yes, the have to read it, but it's worth it).  Their parents, though more intentioned as side characters, shine through with their wacky personalities; Dad loves history whereas Mom loves history....of the off-kilter variety (think professor versus Guinness World Records) providing for several interesting situations along their trip.  The third party narrator whose identity remains a mystery throughout the book is wonderful giving the work an unbiased voice that is still fully interactive in the events shared.  Speaking of interactive.... 

This is one book to read with a computer handy.  I'll give you second to digest that.  Yes, a book to read with a computer nearby.  Why?  We're right back to the interactive aspect of the book.  The narrator invites you to look things up online and follow their journey through Google Maps, MapQuest and the like.  Really!  They actually take a moment to pause and tell you to look it up, or have a little blurb in the sidebar with instructions on how to follow along to bring their trip to life.  It makes everything in the story more real then words on paper, presenting readers with something tangible that connects to the world around us...and creates an instant itinerary for future road trips.  I'd love to see some of the places described...though I'm not certain the giant ball of twine would be at the top of my list (or what befalls the baddies at this particular pit stop along the way ~shudders~).

Along with the good, must come of drop of the not-so-good I'm afraid....and what struck me as off in this particular book was worth a mention in my mind.  Let me reiterate, I enjoyed the story, but how they achieved the ending (for the time being) doesn't sit well with me.  *MINI-SPOILER PROCEED WITH CAUTION*  Dr. Warsaw who was the creator of "the Genius Files" attributes his innovative idea of using the genius children of the world to solve its problems to his experience at the Pentagon...on 9/11.  *moment of silence*  I mean I get it.  Sometimes tragedy sparks innovation and so I'm not as opposed to including the events as something that sparked a change for the better but the ending was simply wrong (my opinion).  It makes a mention in two places (in my ARC at least) to his going crazy because of the events he witnessed (the story goes that he stepped out of his office a few moments before the crash occurred and witnessed the whole event whilst escaping with his life).  A low blow in my humble opinion and though I can see how it may not be as noticeable to the intended age really put a damper on an otherwise highly enjoyable story.  I mean, some of the kids (and adults) reading this work lost people in those attacks either physically or it really right to say something like that even for the sake of a fictitious work? *SPOILER OVER - PROCEED AS USUAL*

All in all, I did enjoy the story, which my devouring it in a mere 2-3 days from when it was received certainly echoes.  Set aside some time when you begin this one because you won't want to put it down until you've reached the final page....which by the way, is not the end per se since book two is alluded to (yay!).  Part two of this family trip should be rather interesting to say the least.  Recommended for readers of all ages...there's a little something for everyone in here (even a lesson on the differences between codes and ciphers plus a chance to solve a few along the way!).

ARC for review received via LibraryThing Early Reviewers and HarperCollins.  (THANKS!)  For more information on either bookish entity, feel free to check out their sites as linked, or you know they're on Twitter too so search them out!  Scheduled release date for this book was 01/25/11 (TODAY....happy book birthday to you...) so be on the look out at a bookstore near you.

Until next time...happy reading!


Shy said...

Your review won me! This surely sounds like a fun read but at the same time, I understand the thing that you were saying under that spoiler bar. I also don't think that it is something remotely right to do as it is a rather sensitive subject. Though overtall, I think the plot and the characters are very interesting.

p.s. You sure found some really good book that I never heard of!

Felicity Grace Terry said...

I agree with Shy, you really do feature some unusual books that I only ever see reviewed here, thanks for that.

Gina said...

Shy: Yay! *fist pump* It definitely was a fun book overall....would love to see what you think when you get a chance to read it. ^_^

Petty Witter: Thanks! I try to review things that catch my eye. They may not always be the most "main stream" but that's the point....share something new, different, and bookish. ^_^

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

Besides the ending I think I could like this one. It doesn't look like one I would normally read but with your review I will add it to my TBR list.

Tales of Whimsy said...

This sounds really cute. Great review darling!

The1stdaughter said...

You definitely bring up a really good point with the ending. I haven't gotten there yet (I was distracted, eeck, what can I say? Too many books!). It makes you wonder when it's okay to touch on a certain event in history. Obviously, there are still Holocaust survivors, Pearl Harbor veterans and on and on. Those have had movies made and books written as well. Now that I think about it, there's even the 9/11 movies. But really I think it's like you mentioned, it has to do with how it's handled and from the sounds of it the author was not as sensitive to the event and people that were actually involved as he should have been. That's too bad, because this sounds like it could be a really great book. I'd be interested to see how the finally copy ends. Hmmm...??

Great review though! You did a fabulous job! :o)

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