Eli, Amber, Tori, Malik, and Hector live in the small town of Serenity, New Mexico. Their town at first glance is the perfect sort of town, one built on the principles of honesty, harmony and contentment. They have a factory that builds those orange cones you see on the side of the road, and a police force consisting of men who the children refer to as the "Purple People Eaters," because of the hideous purple uniforms they wear. Everything runs perfectly, or so Eli thought. Eli's best friend is Randy, an adventure seeker and the one who is famous for his "challenges." Eli isn't normally a do'er but Randy convinces him to take a short ride on their bikes out of town to check out this abandoned car. As they leave the city, Eli becomes violently ill. They then get swarmed by Purple People Eaters in helicopters and are raced back to Serenity. Shortly after regaining consciousness, Eli finds out that Randy will be leaving Serenity. The whole thing is mysterious and Randy's leaving really unnerves Eli. When Randy leaves Eli a message, he becomes even more convinced that something is off in their town and enlists his friends to try and piece together what the adults in Serenity are hiding from them.
One of the interesting aspects of Mastermind is that the story is told through the alternating voices of Eli, Amber, Tori, Malik and Hector, although Eli is probably the main character, as he receives quite a bit of the action. I find sometimes this style makes it difficult to really get to know the characters, and at times I felt this way while reading Mastermind. Like I said, Eli's voice stood out the most. I really wanted to know more about Amber and Tori. At the same time, I can see how each character added a piece to the overall mystery, which worked out well. Boy is there also quite a bit of mystery and plot twists in Mastermind, because the children have been living under a false pretense for most of their lives, plus they make a horrible discovery. A scientific one, that I can't go into to much detail about, well cause of spoilers, but it provides a lot of food for thought. Makes me really wonder in what direction the next book is going to go. Masterminds is the first in a series, and while it didn't end on a huge cliffhanger, there are still quite a few unresolved issues that I suspect will all come together in the next book.
So, what are your thoughts on chapters that alternate between characters? Love em,' or hate em'? What makes them really work for you?
Masterminds has been nominated for the Cybils award and my review reflects my personal opinion, not the opinion of the Cybils committee.