Cover Image: Unplugged

Unplugged

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Member Reviews

Gordon Korman never seems to disappoint me. I got pulled in my the cover, then noticed the author and I was sold. But I had a hard time finishing this one. 

Jett is appalled to discover that he is being sent to a summer camp where participants are not allowed any technology. The premise was a promising one. There are definitely humorous parts and I liked the story, but not as much as Gordon Korman's earlier works, like the Kidnapped and On The Run series. 

Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Unplugged is a great middle grade read with  dynamic characters, humor and easy to follow plot. Definitely recommend for middle grade readers looking to be entertained.
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I absolutely adored this book...and I'm not a middle-schooler! It was laugh-out-loud funny and as a librarian, I can think of many ways to use this as a book club title for tweens. Having it set in Arkansas, my home state, was even better. I think my kiddos will love it and I can't wait to share it!
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Another fabulous read from a master of middle grade stories. From the very beginning Unplugged is full of twists, turns, and fun.
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Ultra rich Silicon Valley father  sends his incorrigible son,  and the son's “keeper”,  off to a wellness camp in the woods of Arkansas. Organic vegetarian meals, meditation, hot spring baths, and life with out electronics is Jett's worst nightmare, but our boy is no slacker when it comes to breaking the rules. He gets  himself  connected long enough to order a ton of expensive fun and food for the camp, but it all gets shipped back except for one item. Jett uncovers a mystery  and more importantly he learns the value of  friendship with real people. Event and character driven with humor and mystery.  Loved every minute. Thank you to HarperCollins Children's and Netgalley for the ARC.
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The cover of this book and the premise sucked me in: Jett, the son of a tech mogul, is sent to a wellness retreat to detox from technology and learn how to behave himself. Jett is a spirited protagonist who breaks a few rules at “The Oasis.” I believe the middle-grade readers in my library will be intrigued (and appalled) by the idea of being completely without electronic devices, and they will enjoy the interesting cast of characters. It is not my favorite Gordon Korman book (Restart, Ungifted, Swindle) but it’s an entertaining story.
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Gordon Korman just gets middle grade fiction.  He just does - friendships, conflict that has some edge but not too much, snark.

In this book Jett has been sent with his "watcher" to Oasis for the summer after some shenanigans.  At Oasis all participants give up their technology and seek to become "whole".  Jett hates it.  But when one of the kids finds a lizard Jett, the girl, and some others start to take care of it and start becoming friends.  But what is Needles exactly?   Who is the mysterious millionaire in the nearby town?  And is everyone on staff at Oasis on the up and up?

For me, this wasn't the best Gordon Korman book I have read.  It took a bit to really get going for me.  That being said, I will talk it up as I do all his books because they hit that middle grade sweet spot.
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Unplugged is the story of Jett, the troubled son of a Silicon Valley billionaire.  Banished to the middle of Arkansan wellness center, with a paid watcher, Jett anticipates the worst summer of his life.  He figures he'll cause enough trouble and be kicked out, something he excels at.  While there, he discovers someone shadier than himself, but why would anyone take seriously the ramblings of "The world's brattiest kid"?

I love Gordon Korman books!  He doesn't dumb down his humor for his audience.  He writes for all the snarky kids.  I enjoy that he tells the story from many different viewpoints, from the rule-following, permission-asking Grace, to the secretive, loner Brooklynne equally well. And I like that his protagonists tend to be flawed characters people don't typically root for.
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As the son of a tech genius billionaire, Jett Baranov is quite frankly a spoiled brat. But now he’s pulled a couple stunts too many and has been sent away to a secluded wellness resort called the Oasis. Accompanied only by one of his father’s staff, he is suddenly immersed in a lifestyle that revolves around meditation, health food, and the catchphrase “be whole”. Worst of all for Jett, technology like cell phones and internet access are prohibited. Jett is used to getting what he wants, but his attempts to rebel against the rules at the Oasis are thwarted, even when he (temporarily) succeeds at stealing his phone back. The resort is run by Magnus Fellini, a businessman-turned-wellness-guru, and Ivory, a meditation expert, and both of them are completely different than any adversary Jett has ever outwitted before.

Although Jett does not make a good first impression on his fellow guests, he eventually gets to know some of the other kids who are staying at the Oasis this summer. There’s Grace Atwell, a goody-goody who actually loves all the health food, wholesome activities, and meditation sessions. Then there’s Tyrell Karrigan, whose diet-obsessed parents don’t care that he’s allergic to pretty much all outdoor activities and healthy foods. Brooklynne Feldman is something of an enigma; she somehow gets away with skipping all of the recreational activities and meditation sessions and instead spends all her time exploring the grounds.

The four kids bond when Grace finds an unusual lizard. The Oasis doesn’t allow pets, but Grace isn’t sure that the lizard can survive on its own, so she decides to keep it in a shoe box. She somewhat unintentionally names him Needles for his surprisingly strong bite. As soon as the other kids find out about Needles, they make a home for him in a disused maintenance shed that only Brooklynne had known about. After trying to feed Needles with Oasis food, they realize that he’s definitely not a vegetarian.

At this point, Jett’s rebellious streak kicks into full gear. With him at the helm, the kids start making clandestine boat trips to Hedge Apple, the nearest town. There, they buy meat for Needles (and for themselves) and candy to give Brandon, another kid who saw them with Needles and threatens to tell the adults at the Oasis. Eventually, when he is given one candy bar too few, Brandon opens the shed door and lets Needles escape. Jett, Grace, Tyrell, and Brooklynne are devastated.

But in the meantime, Jett has stumbled upon a couple mysteries that bear investigation. What is really happening in Ivory’s top-secret one-on-one meditation sessions? Is she hypnotizing and brainwashing all of the grownups at the Oasis? And who owns the giant mansion in Hedge Apple? Why is it so heavily guarded, and why are the grounds so poorly maintained? At first, none of the other kids are convinced that anything sketchy is going on, even after Tyrell and Jett spy on one of Ivory’s meditation sessions with Tyrell’s dad. But when Jett rashly decides to take matters into his own hands, his newfound friends are quick to come to his rescue.

This light-hearted adventure story is reminiscent of Korman’s series Masterminds (from 2015, 2016, and 2017) although it’s at a slightly lower intellectual level and is less action-oriented. But fans of Korman’s previous books will recognize his writing style, characterized by humorous tone, exciting (if sometimes predictable) plot twists, a vivid setting, and strong-willed characters with varied motives and attitudes. In this particular book, much of the humor involves poking good-natured fun at the obsession with holistic wellness that has become so common over the past couple decades. But since most of the characters express at least some degree of appreciation for the Oasis, (even Jett is coming around by the final chapter) I think that this book has just as much appeal for wellness fanatics like Grace as for fast-food lovers and technology junkies like Jett. 

Finally, as something of a personal side note, one thing that I particularly liked about this book was its regional flavor. Although Hedge Apple isn’t a real town, the book specifies that the Oasis is in Arkansas and right by the Saline River, which gives it a pretty specific setting. That’s actually just a little bit south of where I lived as a teenager (and where most of my family still lives) so I can personally attest that both Jett’s complaints about the heat and the humidity and Grace’s enthusiastic remarks about the beauty of the Oasis are accurate.
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This very fun story is about a bratty middle schooler who is sent away to a wellness camp to do a tech detox. This is Gordon Korman at his best-exciting action with characters you want to be friends with and story lines that you don't want to put down.
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Gordon Korman gives MG readers and those who love their books another winner!  Just like the Slacker and Ungifted series, Unplugged is not quite realistic fiction, but while immersed in the settings of regular things like school and camp, it sure seems like every bit could actually happen.  In Unplugged, spoiled rich boy Jett has been sent off to a specialized summer camp designed to reduce distractions and amp up healthy eating and other good life habits such as exercise and relaxation//meditation techniques.  Jett doesn’t want any part of it, but with his techie devices gone and his father-appointed adult sitter on the job, he has no other choice but to endure until he can figure out a way to cause enough trouble that he will be expelled.  When a reptile named Needles, a mysterious mansion owned by a reclusive Ferrari-driving maniac, and a few campers around his age get thrown into the mix, Korman successfully weaves a storyline that will keep most any 4th-8th grade reader hooked until the satisfying, if not expected, conclusion.  ELA teachers should keep this, and other Korman novels, in quantities that will allow literature circles to discover great characterization, clear plot progression, and excellent descriptive passages and libraries serving a MG population can add Unplugged to the FIC KOR shelf without any concern in regards to profanity, sexual content or violence. Highly recommended.
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Unplugged is another intriguing tale from author Gordon Korman. What happens when a spoiled, lonely rich kid is plunked down in a crunchy wellness center for an entire summer with no tech or toys to entertain him? With alternating-perspective chapters, readers are taken on an adventure as that question gets answered in the most unpredictable fashion. Strong characters, humor, and friendship drive an action-packed plot, making this an irresistible read.
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The Oasis Meditation Retreat is not your average summer camp.
And Jett Baranov is not your average 12-year-old.
The Oasis is a place for families to learn healthy habits, de-stress with meditation and "unplug" from the world around them. For many, it's a dream come true. But for Jett, the 12-year-old son of a Silicon Valley billionaire, it's a punishment, a banishment, and his nightmare-turned-reality. 
Jett has spent his life being pampered and spoiled, and in return his rich kid antics have gotten increasingly more and more dangerous. Jett is sent off to the Oasis in the hopes of turning his life around, and more honestly, to give his father and the San Francisco Police, a break!  Jett has no desire to blend in, grow up or even enjoy his time at The Oasis.
But, it's here that Jett gets a chance at true friendship, caring for others more than yourself and more than a little self discovery. With a cast of characters that includes the allergy-riddled Tyrell, rule-following Grace, more-than-mysterious Brooklynne, and the lizard-like pet, Needles, Jett will need to dig down deep to create relationships and solve the mystery surrounding the larger than life Meditation Pathfinder, Ivory.
Gordon Korman has the corner on Middle Grade Fiction. He writes in a way that our students love to read. With relatable characters, humor and plot lines that hook you quickly, Korman knows how to write for our students. And like many of his previous books, Unplugged is a book that our students will not only want to read, but will learn from!
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Thank you Netgalley and Harper Collins for access to this arc.  

The four main characters do come across as the twelve year olds they are. They see the things they’ve done and are involved with – Jett’s outrageous stunts, Grace’s belief that Oasis is so wonderful, Brooklynne’s secret – as much more important and serious than they actually are. But to twelve year olds, that’s how they still view things. The main plot carries you along and for the most part, never feels too out of control. Live without your electronic devices? Yes, for today’s generation, that would be torture. Go to a super healthy living summer camp in Arkansas? For Jett that would be torture. The degree of intensity of the  summer health camp is kind of a little out there but still plausible.  

The adults are all sort of unbelievably clueless and the kids get away with a lot of things even before they must save the day. Seriously, no one in the nearby town, as small as it is, realized what was going on? I find it hard to fathom that no adult got home from a summer at Oasis and didn’t realize that they’d done something they shouldn’t have done – which I’ll avoid going into details about as it’s a spoiler. But since the audience is intended to be middle schoolers who probably haven’t learned the joy of managing a bank account yet, I’ll move on. 

I figured out a few of the secrets, missed another one, caught some of the “Chekhov’s pistols” that had to be used by the third act, but found a few other events to be silly from the POV of an adult. 

But it does have heart and humor. Twelve year olds don’t do more than most twelve year olds would be capable of doing. Two characters change in good ways and discover more about themselves. The wrap up was a little fast with some characters having seemingly miraculous changes of heart about the truth of the mystery going on. The denouement ending was totally unbelievable as LEOs would never have not started questioning people right then and there but again, that’s the adult in me speaking. It’s on the light side but it kept my attention and I wanted to not only know more but how it was going to end. C+
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This was a really fun read. Korman is a master at multiple POV books. The characters in this story are all pretty well-rounded, although Jett was a bit grating at the beginning. I enjoyed seeing his development. I think the twist was at least partly unexpected, which made the ending entertaining and engaging. I will probably purchase this for my library. The cover is attractive and I think if I read the first chapter aloud I'd get some takers.
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Just when you start to think that this book is just a cute story about a rescued lizard - it goes sideways, and not in a bad way! 

If the story stopped at seeing how a spoiled rich kid, a do-gooder, a weirdo, and an allergy-prone kid can find common ground and even bond over a lizard rescued from the hot spring, it would have been a great feel-good story. But, a few misplaced Snicker wrappers lead down a very unexpected and thrill-filled path.

CAWPILE: 8.00
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Couldn't love this book more! I read The Unteachables in the fall and fell in love. Then I read Unplugged and I am fawning over his work! A mystery, a coming-of-age story, friendship. It's all here!
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Gordon Korman seems to be on an upswing with his recent books.  Lots of established authors who are guaranteed to be published seem to start phoning it in when it comes to quality writing in their books and plots.  Korman was never an author full of intricate plots and lyrical writing, but his work is popular with middle schoolers.  But even starting from "adequate", some of his later books have been less than that.  However, I've been more impressed with a few of his recent offerings, including this one.  The characters are solid with each of them clearly drawn.  Of course Jett, the protagonist, is smug and arrogant which makes him fun to start with and then more enjoyable as he mellows into a more normal teen.  I was happy at the point when it became obvious that there was something more going on than just a story about a spoiled rich boy at hippie camp.  That made the book more interesting and added some depth.  The ending was a bit frenetic as EVERYTHING is revealed very quickly but it's still fun with some satisfying comeuppance for the villain.
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This was an adorable book that will make both boys and girls read it page after page!! It's not only this cover that will make kids want to read this one!! I laughed so much when I read this one and I can not wait to get a finished copy of this so our mini reader can read it.  (she's not doing ebooks as of yet).  The mystery was fabulous to follow and the characters were great!
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This mystery book would be great for grade 4-6 readers. Writing is solid as expected from Gordon Korman The main character was not likable, but made progress as the book unfolded. I enjoyed the supporting characters and their quirks. The actual mystery was quite tame and reminded me a bit of a Scooby Doo reveal...they would have gotten away with it if not for those meddling kids.
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