by Michael Buckley

Buckley’s pretty well known for his charming Sisters Grimm series, which brings to life the rather frightening reality that fairy tale characters live in a small town in upstate New York. So it was with high anticipation that I grabbed NERDS off the shelf.

Meet Jackson Jones, your typical super-popular star athlete at the middle school. Kids want to be like him or at least in his circle of friends, even adults emulate him. Charm and style and amazing skill at football should see him through fifth grade trials, tribulations, and time spent picking on geeks and nerds, right?

That is–until a fatal dental appointment–where Jackson learns he has an unusual number of teeth and is slapped into braces and headgear. Highly magnetized headgear. Instantly gone is his popularity

But then he begins to notice something about the classmates he picked on before. When he follows them, he stumbles upon a secret world of spies, missions, and a very unusual Lunch Lady.

Inadvertently joining the team, Jackson has to prove himself to teammates who hate him, deal with super special braces, and try not to flunk out of fifth grade–oh, and save the world from a supreme evil doer and his hired assassin (who is also in fifth grade).

Buckley provides a very realistic hero in the stereotypical popular boy who has fallen from grace. Jackson sees himself as a good kid and is startled to realize he is a bully. A little self-realization and sadness and growth comes but not one of those sudden 180 turn arounds. At random the reader does have to provide retina scans and pass other security clearances…with a typical does of tween humor.

First in a series, this is another one to keep high on the ordering list and make sure it’s face out on the shelves. The guy taking my order at the sub shop the other day grabbed it off the counter for a quick perusal–so I think we can safely say the cover appeals to all ages.