From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—What could induce Karl, a certified genius on track to be his high school valedictorian, to cheat? How about an unlikely stew of half-truths and deceptions cooked up by a confederacy of the school's cool crowd, heated to a low boil by the attentions of the beautiful Cara, and spiced by a taste for putting the morally bankrupt assistant principal Klimchock in his place? After Karl notices that Blaine, whom he heretofore thought of as Mr. Clean, is using his phone's text capability to cheat, Karl is recruited to join Blaine's disparate group of fellow cheaters who claim they just want to screw the system. The slimy Klimchock, having caught wind of the plan, throws down his own high-tech gauntlet, using hidden video cameras to ensnare Karl, to whom he offers an unlikely deal: he'll fake records for the teen's college applications if Karl will rat out his "friends." Meanwhile, the rotten stink gets worse—a local realtor/mayoral candidate is scheming to encourage more cheating because high SAT scores translate into high real-estate prices. Hopefully readers, perhaps attracted by the eye-catching cover, will persist past the stereotypes to enjoy Laser's heartwarming ending, as despite some loose ends and fuzzy logic, there are some funny, interesting characters to enjoy in this contemporary satire.—Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
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Straight-A-student Karl Petrofsky finds himself in over his head after an underground cheating ring, known as The Confederacy, recruits him. Initially lured by the popularity of The Confederacy’s members, Karl dumps his nerdy friends and rationalizes that his cheating contributions are really a strike against a tyrannical assistant principal, Mr. Klimchock, who secretly uses security cameras to catch deceitful students. Then Klimchock nails Karl on tape and threatens to blacken his transcripts unless he coughs up the names of his coconspirators. Caught between The Confederacy and Klimchock, Karl tries to hatch a plan that will save his SAT scores and win back his best friend, Lizette. Laser’s breezy prose and humorous dialogue balance his serious message about the perils of cheating and will hold the attention of reluctant readers. A well-developed cast of secondary characters, some intriguing high-tech cheating tools, and a late-breaking plot twist round out this entertaining debut that will go over well with fans of David Lubar and Gordon Korman. Grades 7-10. --Jennifer Hubert