Mission Unstoppable (Genius Files Series #1)

Mission Unstoppable (Genius Files Series #1)

4.6 235
by Dan Gutman

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In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald are going to 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 .

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In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald are going to 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 here, we'd have to kill you.

Megapopular author Dan Gutman brings on the excitement with an action-packed new series that's nothing short of dynamite. Join Coke and Pep on their quest to uncover just what it means to be part of The Genius Files . . . if you dare!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the first book in the Genius Files series, "almost-teenager" twins Coke and Pepsi get caught up in a secret society of brilliant kids chosen to save the nation from terrorists. With an abundance of photographs, clip art–style illustrations, and reader-directed asides—"Ordinarily in a story, this is where the author tells the readers what the main character... look like.... But you know what? Who cares?"—Gutman unfolds his story quickly, and, within pages, readers will be invested in the twins' adventures. After learning someone wants to kill them, they set out on a cross-country RV trip with their parents, receiving death threats, meeting bad guys, and thwarting every evil plan, while making pit stops at such quirky (real) destinations as a Pez museum in Burlingame, Calif., and two gigantic balls of twine in Kansas and Minnesota. Coke and Pepsi are amusing (if accidental) heroes, and their parents are the perfect parody of clueless, overenthusiastic grownups. There is no shortage of humor or action, though the oddball brand of danger shouldn't frighten younger readers. All in all, Gutman continues to do what he does best: entertain readers. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Dan Gutman is a funny man and a prolific writer and the Genius Files, his latest excursion into early teen adventure and absurdity will likely find an immediate audience. It is not, however, without flaws. Fraternal twins Pepsi and Coke McDonald are super-smart California kids who are, unknowingly, part of a post 9/11 experiment by a mad scientist to identify the brilliant kids who can combat terrorism. But Mad Dr. Warsaw, the instigator of The Genius Files, rapidly loses faith in his experiment and vows to destroy all the brilliant children he earlier identified. Sending his minions out to kill Pepsi and Coke, he does not account for Coke's endless, prank-honed tricks that save the pair from the "Bowler hat dudes" and their freakishly tall gym teacher (Jane Lynch, anyone?). They are also protected by Mya and Bones, the disguised school janitor. Their clueless parents take the twins on a cross-country jaunt in a rented RV to all the odd places that America has to offer like the Pez Museum, the Singing Sands Monument, and the Spam Factory. Getting to each of these off-the-beaten-track sites depends on Pepsi's ability to decipher clues left for the twins as to where their arch nemeses will next appear. The story culminates at the House on the Rock, an architectural oddity in Wisconsin where the twins are lured into the Infinity Room and Dr. Warsaw may, or may not, have met his doom. Gutman's references to Monty Python's Spam Song will likely sail over the heads of kids. For me, the most disturbing plot device in the book is the use of 9/11 as the cause of Dr. Warsaw's madness and his Mengele-like attempt to isolate children based on intelligence. Still, the book is exciting, full of far-fetched facts, and a page turner. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—On an ordinary day, Coke, 12, and his twin sister, Pepsi, are chased along a cliff path by a man wearing a bowler hat and driving a golf cart. This is only the first of a series of events in which people, including their health teacher, try to kill them. Eventually they learn that after 9/11, a man who survived the attack at the Pentagon developed a plan, outlined in what came to be called The Genius Files project, to identify children who will solve the world's problems. Based on their standardized test scores, Coke and Pepsi are chosen to be in the first Young American Geniuses group. But before the two can begin to fully grasp this fact, they are whisked away on a cross-country road trip with their parents, stopping off at many wacky tourist traps. Along the way they find ciphers giving them clues to potential attempts on America that they need to try to stop. While this is a fun and mostly funny adventure, it has many plot holes and suffers from poor character development. The Genius Files is only marginally explained and the ending peters out with an attempt at a cliff-hanger. Gutman sprinkles the book with interesting photos and instructions for following the children on their journey, making it a great road-trip novel about offbeat side excursions, but the mystery aspect doesn't quite fit.—Necia Blundy, Marlborough Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews

Preteen twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald find themselves battling for their lives while visiting some of America's premier roadside attractions. The prospect of a summer trip from California to Washington, D.C., in a rented RV has the twins underwhelmed—until several murder attempts make a getaway considerably more appealing. It seems that Coke and Pepsi have been unknowingly co-opted into a Secret Government Program, and their first mission is simply to stay alive as mysterious assassins follow them and their oblivious parents on a wandering itinerary from Nevada's Singing Sand Dunes to the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minn., to the rococo House on the Rock in Iowa County, Wisc. Encouraging readers to follow along, Gutman tucks Google Map directions and small photographs into the margins while salting his tale with coded messages and rousingly icky brangles involving the RV's septic system and a giant tank of liquefied SPAM, along with his usual generous measures of quick action and snarky repartee. He also leaves the McDonalds with at least 1,000 more miles of giant statues and other local wonders to visit—so stay tuned for Part Two. (Adventure. 10-12)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Genius Files Series , #1
Sold by:
Sales rank:
730L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years


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