Gordon Korman’s newest middle grade adventure has 27 chapters with six different narrators. Multiple viewpoints to the max. It’s a tough task for any author, but this unique plot and setting pulls it all together.
Set in a retreat known as the Oasis, the Arkansas wilderness is the perfect place to put forth a lifestyle of no electronics, eating a vegetarian diet, and meditation. Families come to enrich their lives with a different type of escape from everyday life. The newest arrival is anything but happy to be there. Jett Baranov is the spoiled rich kid of Silicone Valley’s multi-billionaire tech genius. Jett is the focus of the story and narrates 11 of the chapters.
- Grace Atwater (6 chapters): She likes the Oasis and adores both the leader and his assistant. Grace is totally into everything they espouse. She detests Jett and his obnoxious ways.
- Tyrell Karrigan (4 chapters): Allergies abound for this kid as he’s always itchy. His parents and sister have accompanied him on this unique experience and he’s the first to befriend the enemy—Jett.
- Brooklyn Feldman (4 chapters): She’s spent more time at the Oasis than anyone. She has a secret that is eventually revealed.
- Brandon Bucholz (1 chapter): Son of a retired pro football player. Brandon is a semi-bully who tries to blackmail Jett.
- Matt Louganis (1 chapter) Matt is there to chaperone Jett since Jett’s parents have no time for their son. Matt’s task is not easy.
The story’s appeal grows as Jett and three other kids adopt a strange looking lizard found on camp grounds. They keep it in a tray of water, hide the little guy in an abandoned shed, and share the feeding responsibilities. This act of kindness changes many of their attitudes toward each other. Meanwhile, Jett is getting more suspicious of how the camp is conducted. The adults are all acting a little strange. He’ll do anything, no matter how wrong his methods are, to get to the bottom of exactly what is going on.
Recommended for those who enjoy multiple viewpoints, a few laughs, and an easy read.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: January 5, 2021 PAGE COUNT: 336
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: UNPLUGGED by Gordon Korman
- Young readers will immediately connect with the concept of going off the grid. No phones or any electronics would be torture to anyone in the ALWAYS ON generation.
- An exciting climax with some great character arcs—even the surprising one for Matt.
- Having Jett as the center of the story was a good choice. You don’t often see someone whose reputation of being a spoiled jerk as the main protagonist. Jett is the kid nobody wants, but eventually you emphasize with his predicament.
- Just enough twists to keep the pages turning. Some were quite unexpected!
- The cover pulled me in even before I saw the author’s name.
HOW GORDON KORMAN GOT HIS START
Welcome to the wonderful world of a regular guy who just happened to write 90-something books for kids and teens.
I was born on October 23, 1963 in Montreal, Canada, and grew up mostly in the Toronto area.
My writing career began virtually by accident when I was in 7th grade. The track and field coach had to teach English. For creative writing, he gave us total freedom to work on whatever we wanted for the rest of the year. It was February. That added up to a class period per day for more than four months. The result was my first novel, THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING AT MACDONALD HALL.
I sent my manuscript to Scholastic because I was the class monitor for Scholastic Book Orders, and figured I was practically an employee. Seriously. (Full disclosure: my mom had to type my book for me.) It was a totally flukey and random way to launch a publishing career, but here’s the thing: It worked.!THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING AT MACDONALD HALL was published by Scholastic when I was a freshman in high school, and I was on my way.
(Read more about Mr. Korman and his books at his author web site)
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