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THE BLACKOUT GANG


By Josh McCall

Sleuth/Razorbill (Penguin Young Readers Group), 2006 ($10.99)
ISBN: 1-59514-050-6
Ages 8 and up

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Three super geniuses have been banished from their homes in New York City to a boring summer camp, where their parents hope being around more "normal" kids will be good for them. It seems that when they hacked into the Fort Knox website as a prank, the government was not amused. The trio are best pals who attend a school for the gifted in NYC, and even there they stand out from the crowd. Balthazar Bell, known as "BB," is a computer whiz; Monica Steen is a virtuoso violinist; Kevin Park is a jock with a special talent for physics.

Cell phones are not allowed at the camp, but that doesn’t stop the three from having contact with the outside world. While sitting around in their favorite tree house contemplating another dull evening, they get a strange message from Newt Lizard, an obnoxious, grossly obese, and wildly wealthy classmate. It appears that he is in trouble and needs their help. As much as they dislike the boy, they feel some responsibility to help him, and besides, it’s better than hanging around the camp. They hop a train into the city, which is in the midst of a major blackout, traffic snarled, tempers flaring, total chaos. When they make their way to Newt’s mansion he tells them he has been attacked, and that the bad guys have taken the kids’ parents hostage. Using all their wits and skills, they set off to rescue their folks and save the world from mayhem and destruction.

This is an entertaining, fast paced thriller for the younger set.

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