The School for the Insanely Gifted by Dan Elish (NY: Harper, 2011).
Daphna Whispers is nearly twelve and composes utterly entrancing music; her best friend Harkin Thunkenreiser (aka Thunk) builds amazing machine, and her other best friend Cynthia Trustwell has starred in multiple Broadway musicals. They are all insanely gifted and students at the Blatt School for the Insanely Gifted, an institution founded by the extremely colorful entrepreneur Ignatious Peabody Blatt. Daphna's life had been fine until her mother disappeared two months ago, and she was slowly starting to adjust to her new reality with her neighbor as her legal guardian (her father had died from consuming sour yak milk when she was a baby). Then a mysterious burglar surprises her in her apartment and she discovers clues that lead her to investigate her mother's disappearance. Soon Daphne, Cynthia, and Thunk are winging to Africa in one of Thunk's amazing inventions, barely making it to their destination and the startling revelations that will change everything they've believed in!
Elish has crafted an insanely entertaining story full of action and adventure--with some thrills and scary moments, too--that will keep readers turning the pages. One must thoroughly suspend disbelief to manage this novel (the Thunkmobile, created from junked taxis, makes it to Africa with only one refueling stop, for instance), though the main characters' struggles are real enough. Daphna is a sympathetic protagonist, but many of the other characters, particularly the adults, are cartoonish at best, which is great for undermining the fear factor. Recommended for ages 9 & up.
I read a lot, especially kid and young adult lit. This blog will review what I've been reading. I get most of my reading material from the library, plus I buy books at school book fairs and the usual stores. I look for freebies on Amazon for my Kindle, and I'm happy to review any ARCs or e-galleys I can get my hands on.