When last I left author Michael Buckley, he was writing the awesome adventures of The Sisters Grimm. His new book, N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society, begins a whole new series of action and adventure.
Jackson Jones is a 5th Grade star athlete, incredibly popular, and truth be told, something of a bully. All that changes on the day his orthodontist dooms him to the fate braces (with headgear and the works) to fix his medical oddity of having a mouth full of sixty-four teeth. Kids can be cruel, and soon Jackson is kicked to the curb, a social outcast in the same world where he used to be king.
Friendless, Jackson begins to fill his time uncovering and solving mysteries, all of which are benign and not terribly interesting until he uncovers the N.E.R.D.S., a pack of nerdy kids engaged in the kind of espionage that adult spies are not even capable of, because a nerd kid can go totally undetected and unnoticed. It’s perfect. Beneath the school is their secret lair, and even the janitor and the bearded lunch “lady” are in on the action.
The pack of N.E.R.D.S. consists of Duncan “Gluestick” Dewey, Ruby “Pufferfish” Peet, Heathcliff “Choppers” Hodges, Julio “Flinch” Escala, and Matilda “Wheezer” Choi, all of whom have had their nerdiest weakness modified into a superpower by a supercomputer named Benjamin. Soon the team has to face off against the evil mastermind, Dr. Jigsaw, and his hired wanna-be girl assassin, The Hyena. Jackson has to fight hard to be accepted into the team (there’s quite a bit of bullying to live down) so that he can help save the day.
Though this book is heavy on the clique cliches (especially for the 5th Grade), this book is great fun to read. Boy readers are sure to dig Jackson and all of the super spy action, but the sympathetic girl assassin and some of the awesome girl N.E.R.D.S. make this book great for girls, too. I’m looking forward to reading more in this series that shows that nerds have more fun.