Supergifted – Review

Gordon Korman. Supergifted. New York: Harper, 2018. Print.

That is right! It is only February, and already we are reviewing a book that just came out this year. Of course, it is not just any book, but a new on by our favorite Young Adult (YA) author, Gordon Korman.

Supergifted is a sequel to Ungifted, one of the funniest of all Korman’s stories. Supergifted does not disappoint in that regard. Another reader who read this and I are both amazed at how Korman keeps coming up with crazy ideas that make us laugh.

Towards the end of his Swindle series, Korman was getting repetitive, but then he stopped writing those books, which was just as fine. For the most part, though, he gets original ideas.

Supergifted continues the story of Donovan Curtis, now back in Hardcastle Middle School where he fits in academically. Readers will do fine without having read Ungifted, though they will probably want to read it after reading this book.

As Korman has done in a number of his novels, his chapters have different narrators. Donovan’s family life has changed as his sister Katie and Marine brother-in-law Brad have moved in while Brad awaits redeployment. They now have a baby daughter, Tina. Brad has named the Curtis’s new puppy Khandahar in memory of the province in Afghanistan where he served.

Noah Youkilis, the smartest kid at the gifted academy (I.Q. 206), has decided that even his advanced school is too boring. He wants to find challenges as an ordinary middle schooler, so he transfers to Hardcastle M. S. His goal is to take a class in a subject where he needs remedial classes.

The problem is that Noah is the stereotypical nerd. He is short, very skinny, and talks over the heads of most of his fellow eighth graders. Donovan calls him a wedgie waiting to happen. Because he knew him from the academy, Donovan feels a duty to do what he can to protect him from bullying.

Donovan does enlist the aid of the “two Daniels,” bullies who Donovan has become friendly with, to act as Noah’s bodyguards in school. While this does limit somewhat Noah’s torment at school, they cannot be everywhere. Noah still gets de-pantsed in gym class among other things.

As the plot develops, it more than just a funny fish out of water story. Total klutz that Noah is, he decides to join the cheerleaders. Never mind that he is male and cannot even do a somersault. The teacher advisor admires Noah’s school spirit and lets him join, to the great chagrin of captain Megan Mercury who has been dreaming about a state championship cheerleading squad.

The biggest, meanest jerk at school, Hash Taggart (Hashtag for short), has decided that Noah is just made for him to tease. Once, outside of school, when Donovan acts to defend Noah from Hashtag, the other Curtis dog Beatrice (Khandahar’s mother) bites Hashtag on the arm in defense of Donovan. Hashtag’s parents are both lawyers and threaten to sue the Curtises and have Beatrice euthanized unless they keep the dog out of their neighborhood.

All this happens before the story gets complicated. Yes. Donovan is a typical impulsive eighth grade boy. Noah is not typical at all. He one contact with the “real world” is YouTube. He watches WWE wrestlers on YouTube and thinks he can take down Hashtag by dressing like Hulk Hogan and wielding a folding chair.

Noah does not have boots, so he paints a pair of long johns from the knees down and heads off to Hashtag’s neighborhood on a Saturday morning. Donovan realizes what Noah is attempting while he is walking the dogs and hurries to the Taggarts’ street to head Donovan off. (Interesting, two different meanings of “head off” in two sentences.) Donovan knows he could be in hot water if he is seen in Hashtag’s neighborhood, but what is he to do?

What happens then is unbelievable, hilarious, and makes for a wild story.

Though Donovan is back at the regular middle school where he belongs, he still meets weekly with the robotics team from the gifted academy. He was the only one there with much video game experience, so he could handle the controller of the school’s robot better than any of the other kids, programmers and engineers they may have been.

As the plot concerning Noah and Donovan (and Hashtag and the cheerleaders and the dogs) thickens, the robot starts behaving erratically. This reader was able to discern why long before the revelation at the end. The fish is still out of water. I give no clues, only to see if other readers pick up on it. (Hey, I did not figure out who the murderer was in the last book I reviewed, let me be glad for connecting a few dots in this one.) Well, one clue: Even the governor of the state gets involved before the end of the story.

Few writers are as consistently funny as Gordon Korman. Supergifted is another hoot.

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