Adventure, Fiction, Middle Grade

Mission Unstoppable

Image from Dan Gutman’s website

Title:  Mission Unstoppable (Genius Files #1)

Author:  Dan Gutman

Genre:  Adventure

In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald will turn thirteen.  Before then, they’ll jump off a cliff; get trapped in the locked basement of their burning school, chased cross-country by murderous lunatics, left for dead in the pit of a sand dune, forced to decipher mysterious coded messages, thrown into a giant vat of SPAM, and visit the world’s largest ball of twine.  There’s more, but if we told you, we’d have to kill you.

Before I get too far, I’d like to make a distinction.  Young adult and middle grade books are not always as different as they should be.  I’ve read some middle grade books that worked just fine for an older audience.  I’ve read some young adult books that would have been better for ten-year-olds.  It just depends on the book.

Honestly, I did enjoy this book.  It was a light-hearted, fun story.

The problem was, quite a few of the scenes weren’t suitable for “light-hearted.”  That made a lot of reactions implausible.  Take, for instance, the scene right before Coke and Pepsi jump off a cliff.  Some guy is chasing them, a mysterious woman saves them, gets shot with a dart, and collapses, and Coke and Pepsi jump off a cliff.  Kinda intense.  But then the next day, they’ve practically forgotten about it!

I can see why Dan Gutman does it that way.  Mission Unstoppable is a middle grade book, and by dwelling on the scary parts, that would (understandably) scare away the kids.  But that also makes it not as good for older readers.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a good book.  I’m sure my ten-year-old brother would enjoy it.  Heck, I even enjoyed it.  My only problem was that logical reactions were abandoned in favor of a middle grade audience.  That’s not a bad thing – it just means that it doesn’t cross over into older reader territory quite so well.

Mission Unstoppable is the first book in the Genius Files series, but it did just fine as a standalone novel.  Everything was neatly wrapped up.  In fact, I’m not really sure what the sequel will be about, in light of the ending of this one.

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