Book of the Month: Ungifted
Ungifted: Gordon Korman
Who could resist a book with such a cute robot on the cover? While the robot is a big factor in cover appeal, the title is as well. Who's ungifted, and why? The cover implies that this is a fun book through the bright colors and sweet robot. (Remember, a book's cover is important to the book's contents.)
Donovan Curtis is our troublesome but lovable main character. He is what you might call impulsive, if by that you mean doing things without thinking constantly, and egged on by his two "friends". (They're not that bad, most of the time.) After a major accident at his school, Donovan's name accidentally gets put on the list for the gifted school in the area. Donovan, however, barely makes good grades at the normal school. He's being looked for as the culprit in the accident, so he uses the school as a hideout. Only the problem is he must act like a genius. The school is not like he expected. It's full of gifted kids who are only gifted in academics. In normal things like socializing, they're major failures. Donovan turns out to be the thing they need to both win the robotics meet and skip summer school for Human Growth and Development. But when he is caught and sent back to his old school, will they be able to do either?
I like a lot about this book. Donovan, for one thing. Yes, he acts on impulse and gets in trouble a lot. But he's also thoughtful and a good kid at heart. He volunteers his sister for Human Growth and Development, though it took some convincing. He defends the nerd kids even though he doesn't have to. Not only does he hide from the superintendent to save his own skin, he's afraid his parents will be forced to pay for damages, and they can't afford that.
I also enjoy the point that things aren't always what it seems. Some people complain because the book is stereotypical. In a way, it is, but to make his point. He exaggerates the awkwardness of the gifted kids and the blandness of the "normal" kids to show his theme. I think he's trying to tell you that you can't judge a person just by how they're categorized.
One thing I dislike is how the POV's are laid out in the book. It's in first person past tense. The chapters are all titled with a single word starting with un- (which I think is a cool idea), the name of the character, and their IQ. If you aren't paying attention to who is speaking in this chapter, you'll have to go back and read it again. I understand that Gordon was trying to give a look from inside the character, but I find it tricky to read. It's a pet peeve of mine to switch POV's a lot in first person. You can go just as deep in third person, and it's easier know who's speaking. But that's my opinion.
The characters are middle schoolers, but I think anyone ten and up would enjoy it. Any younger than that and they would like it but miss the point of the book. If you want a funny book for light reading, this is for you.