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The Chamber of Five

The Chamber of Five

4.0 1
by Michael Harmon

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In a private-school conspiracy novel, 16-year-old Jason Weatherby knows exactly why he's at the Lambert School for the Gifted. And it's not for his brains. His dad is an influential state senator. It's this same connection that lands him a spot on the secretive Chamber of Five, the elite group of students who run the school with a shadow government, tapping into the


In a private-school conspiracy novel, 16-year-old Jason Weatherby knows exactly why he's at the Lambert School for the Gifted. And it's not for his brains. His dad is an influential state senator. It's this same connection that lands him a spot on the secretive Chamber of Five, the elite group of students who run the school with a shadow government, tapping into the same lines of powers as their parents. When he's asked to physically assault and ruin the reputation of another student as part of his initiation, Jason sees firsthand the depravity of the Chamber—and decides to work from the inside to take it down. But Jason taps into a conspiracy—and school secrets—far more insidious than he could ever have imagined. From award-winning author Michael Harmon comes a taut, thrillingly paced novel about the perils of privilege. Can one bold student set things right?

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Jason Weatherby is a rich kid. He attends a prestigious school for the gifted, and his father is a congressman. Only Jason isn't gifted, and neither are any of the other members of the elite group of five boys who run the school. The Chamber is a powerful springboard to prestigious colleges and powerful positions. Carter Logan is its cruel, and some would say sadistic, leader. He uses his position to force members to do unspeakable things to other students to get their compliance or to get them kicked out of the school. He makes a girl strip to the waist, and he forces one boy to perform oral sex while photos are taken to spread around campus. Jason wants none of it, but the repercussions for noncompliance could be too great and his abusive father is siding with The Chamber. Now things are turning even more ugly and violent, and Jason becomes determined to bring down the group and expose it for what it is. This book is gritty and powerful, and will have readers transfixed. The short chapters, fascinating characters, and page-turning action makes this book an excellent choice for reluctant readers.—Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO
Publishers Weekly
In this tense psychological thriller, Harmon (Brutal) explores the abuse of power and authority. At the Lambert School for the Gifted, the student body is run by the Youth Leadership Group, which is in turn ruled by the elite Chamber of Five. When junior Jason Weatherby is tapped to join the Chamber, it's an honor he doesn't want and an opportunity he isn't allowed to refuse. Emotionally blackmailed by the Chamber's tyrannical and manipulative leader, Carter Logan, and pressured by his own abusive congressman father, Jason reluctantly accepts, but only so he can change the system from within. His first task: destroy fellow student Thomas Singletary, a mysterious loner. Caught between the demands of a corrupt government and his own beliefs, Jason recruits allies, including Thomas. As tension mounts, violence is all but inevitable. With its intense, brittle atmosphere, this story is a narrative powder keg ready to explode. While the villains are a little cartoonish in their unrelenting nastiness, Jason's inherent optimism and decency make him a protagonist worth supporting. Dark at heart, there's light at the end of this tunnel. Ages 14–up. (June)
From the Publisher
"This book is gritty and powerful, and will have readers transfixed." —School Library Journal

"[A] tense psychological thriller." —Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
This thriller turns on the corruption of privilege and power, setting seventeen-year old Jason Weatherby against the Chamber of Five, the ruling power group in his elite school for the gifted and, as Jason wryly notes, those whose parents "gift" the school. When brought into the Chamber of Five, Jason is already cynical about power, as he says, "the kind of power I'd grown up around." He recognizes that he is a child of privilege (and power) and he does not like it. Soon, he likes it even less. This novel is about the choices people, teens and adults, make and the values they affirm in words and those they affirm in action. Power play and counter power play line up like dominoes in this book: some center on sexual predation, some on vengeful shame, and others on physical violence, but the latest action always holds the trump card. Finally, individuals, including Jason, choose sides and make a stand. Jason runs for school office in defiance of the Chamber, but discovers that life is more complex than he realizes. Good and bad, deserving and undeserving are inexplicably mixed in his peers and even his parents. Readers will be brought up against basic value questions: who am I? What do I believe? How do I stand up for my beliefs? How would I act in this situation? Many of the characters are not fully realized, perhaps a fault of the thriller genre, and some explicitly sexual language is used. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg
Kirkus Reviews

As the son of a U.S. Congressman, 17-year-old Jason Weatherby knows all about power and influence.

His father's connections secured his admission into the prestigious Lambert School for the Gifted, while the geniuses for whom the school was founded have no such clout. As a sophomore, Jason joined the exclusive Youth Leadership Group, and his invitation to join the Chamber of Five in his junior year is the ultimate reward for his father's generosity. Inclusion in this elite group of upperclassmen comes with a price: Jason must convince an undesirable freshman named Thomas Singletary to leave Lambert, by any means necessary. Until Jason agrees to become a Chamber member and gets rid of Thomas, the other Chamber members ridicule and physically threaten his friend Elvis, one of the novel's few sympathetic characters. Jason's own elitism comes across in his first-person narration and may leave some readers questioning both his decisions and Harmon's choice of protagonist. Jason's decision to stage a coup d'état during the student council elections sets off a chain of events leading to the novel's dramatic conclusion, although perceptive teens may unearth the personal vendetta behind the Chamber's Machiavellian actions before Jason puts all of the pieces together.

With a cast of mostly unlikable characters, this novel of privilege and corruption proves uninspiring. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

MICHAEL HARMON was born in Los Angeles and now lives in the Pacific Northwest. He dropped out of high school as a senior and draws on many of his own experiences in his award-winning fiction for young adults. You can visit him on the Web at BooksbyHarmon.com

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Chamber of Five 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Readingjunky More than 1 year ago
Jason Weatherby goes to Lambert School for the Gifted. His father is a U.S. Congressman and expects his son to follow him in some sort of political career and going to the elite school is part of that plan. Lambert is controlled by a group known as the Chamber of Five. Jason has just become part of the group, but now that he is one of the insiders, he is learning about the corrupt dealings of this secret group. The leader of the Chamber assigns Jason the task of having a certain freshman removed from the school. The more Jason learns, the more he realizes that something must be done to shut down the Chamber and return to control of the school to the truly gifted students instead of the power-hungry bullies. When his father gets wind of Jason's plan, his temper flairs. Fed up with his father's abusive behavior, Jason continues on with his plan because he knows it is the right thing to do. Author Michael Harmon takes readers into the inner workings of the secret society within a private school. Jason proves that it is possible to stand up to corrupt forces to change things for his fellow classmates.