Posted by Venus Bradley on Thursday, May 24, 2012
Labels: intermediate book review
HarperCollins Children's Books
Release Date: August 12, 2012
Donovan Curtis is profoundly ungifted, as in not a genius by any stretch of the imagination. But when Donovan accidentally causes a catastrophic accident that ruins the school gym, he finds himself in need of a hiding place and through a series of mishaps he soon finds himself swimming in a sea of geniuses. For the kids at the Academy of Scholastic Distinction, Donovan represents a world outside their "gifted" bubbles, a world of normalcy, where kids go to school dances and watch YouTube and grades are just average. Everyone knows that Donovan doesn't belong at the Academy, but what would they ever have done without him?
Gordon Korman delves into the world of the gifted with a wonderful character in Donovan Curtis. Quick thinking, brash, but relatively normal, Donovan is a perfect foil against the many characters introduced throughout the book. Compared to his two best friends, the Daniels, Donovan looks like a genius, but when measured against the kids at the Academy, he is a dull star. Alternating between Donovan, his classmates, sister, and teachers, Ungifted is humorous and fun and I think many kids will find themselves relating to the various dilemmas that Donovan and his friends find themselves in.
My one criticism would be that the children at the Academy are your quintessential stereotypes of smart kids, to the point that the characters sometimes felt a little flat. All the gifted children were portrayed as having no social skills and lacked any kind of normal in their lives, which makes them the dorkiest most socially abnormal school in the world, because there is no way every single smart kid would be dressed like a stereotype and unable to make friends. Noah, the Academy's smartest student has an IQ of 206, which is simply impossible. Stephen Hawking only has an IQ in the low 160s. Only. And the other students are at least as smart as Hawking. Although I loved the plot and Donovan, I found myself having to treat the novel more like a fantasy in this respect. I imagine if a person had the intelligence of Noah they would be in college by the time they were 12.
This point aside, the focus really is on Donovan and he really is a wonderful character who I wouldn't mind meeting up with in another book. One can only imagine the kind of trouble he will get into.