Everyone told me that I was going to love college, and that I’d just have to grin and bear it through high school. College was okay, I actually didn’t hate high school (despite being a Daria Morgendorffer type, I quickly fell in with the artsy nerdy kids and our school was diverse enough that the teen movie style cliques didn’t really apply, everyone more or less got along with everyone else give or take), but there is no amount of money you could pay me to relive middle school; it might have been different if I had been in a Gordon Korman book with the friends to support me.
Korman does an admirable job of outlining the pedestrian struggles of adolescence without going DARK AND GRITTY and still having some over-the-top fun. Donovan, our protagonist, gets into his current predicament by accidentally toppling the globe of an unsecured Atlas statue into the newly renovated gym of his middle school. Despite this not being his first offense, his principal still doesn’t quite know him by name, so when the school secretary is misdirected and gives his name to the gifted school by mistake, he’s unable to find Donovan.
Despite not being gifted (Korman slyly gives each chapter’s narrator’s IQ score along with their name at each division), Donovan adds something to the classes, particularly the robotics team. He makes friends, he drums up enthusiasm, and he names the robot they are working on (well, partially. He also inspires the team to contribute to the name). As he becomes more a part of the school, others start to notice that his intellect isn’t particularly exceptional, but value his participation (and less selflessly, need him to control the robot as his video game skills made him far and away the best pilot).
It’s a YA book, so we know that it’s not exactly gonna conclude like the last act of Hamlet, but I’m still not going to give too much away. Suffice it to say that as in all friendships, meeting in the middle tends to be the best way of things. Despite the other gifted students, faculty, and Donovan’s own sister being skeptical of his talents, his friends recognized his other gifts. And, in a subtle twist that’s never actually explicitly discussed, Donovan’s IQ? In the 120s. 130 gets you into Mensa.