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The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable Hardcover – January 25, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 204 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Genius Files Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Thrill seekers and Gutman fans alike will welcome the opening installment of the Genius Files series, which follows twin 12-year-olds Coke and Pepsi McDonald on their cross-county vacation. The precocious brother and sister uncover a secret government plot to use “YAGs,” or Young American Geniuses, to solve the complex problems of the nation, and find that they are on the list. Suddenly, their 3,000-mile road trip becomes a lot more exciting. The McDonalds’ trek across the U.S. includes stops at the Donner Party Memorial, a museum of PEZ memorabilia, and the world’s largest ball of twine, all while being pursued by dangerous “dudes with bowler hats.” Although the interjection of factual information from their college-professor father is a bit forced at times, Gutman’s novel offers a quirky look at Americana that will engage curious minds. Frequent sidebars direct readers to Google Maps to track the twins’ journey, and occasional photos of the attractions add appeal. Those looking for a fun and suspenseful read similar to those from Pseudonymous Bosch will not be disappointed. Grades 5-8. --Erin Anderson

Review

''There is no shortage of humor or action . . . Gutman continues to do what he does best: entertain readers.'' --Publishers Weekly

''A quirky look at Americana that will engage curious minds . . . Those looking for a fun and suspenseful read similar to those from Pseudonymous Bosch will not be disappointed.'' --Booklist

''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 . . . A page turner.'' --Children's Literature

''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 . . . along with his usual generous measures of quick action and snarky repartee.'' --Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: Genius Files (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061827649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061827648
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Laura on December 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm always looking for a good chapter book to read with my twelve year old at night - one we both find interesting. This book definately hit the bill there. Two preteen twins (Coke and Pepsi) caught up in a secret government project with people out to kill them. The plot is exciting, there is a lot of amusement in the story as we learn of their bizzare names and their slightly eccentric parents. Very entertaining and unexpected story twists.

Here's my problem - I hope my twelve year old is responsible enough to see these are bad decisions - but several times the twins go with complete strangers who claim to be saving their lives - actually get in a car with them at one point. Next when they are told they are part of this secret government project - they are informed they can never tell anyone about it - even their parents - or their families lives may be threatened - OK big red flag - who wants their kid reading a book that says you have to keep secrets from your parents. I actually stopped right there to explain that you NEVER keep secrets from your parents (even if the supposed person says they will hurt them if you tell). You always need a parents judgement to help you make decisions when you are twelve. My kid said, "I know Mom" - but still it just gave me an uneasy feeling about the book in general.

So if you don't mind the message to kids that secrets and strangers are ok - then it is an entertaining read - but I would read it with your child and remind them that these are not good choices.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As my soon to be 8-year-old son is getting into puzzle-based books and his reading level is pretty good for his age, I figured why not try something a little longer and see how he enjoys it. I figured the book is for 8-12 year olds, hopefully this book would be easy for him to read.

"The Genius Files: Mission Impossible" by Dan Gutman is a book with a lot of potential, fun, engaging but I have to admit, for younger children, this may go way over their heads.

The book is about two twins, Coke and Pep McDonald and as they prepare for their family vacation cross-country (which both are dreading), while walking home, they notice a man in black driving behind them, following them with a golf cart.

At first, they figured it was just an old man driving but when Pep's female intuition starts to kick in, her brother Coke knows its bad and both start running away from the man. A mysterious woman named Mya shows up out of nowhere, gives them flight suits and tells them to jump off the cliff or else they will die and tells them that their life is in danger. The next thing you know it, more men and black show up and Mya tries to defend the kids. She ends up getting hit by darts and the kids have nowhere to go but to jump off a cliff.

The two can't believe they are flying through mid-air but now know their lives are in danger for some reason.

Well that reason is because the two happen to be genius. After 9/11, a scientist who was working at the Pentagon right after the accident was working on a program in which younger children who are geniuses were sought out and would be used for a government program.

What is Coke and Pep's tie to the program? And why do people want them dead?
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This first in a new comic/adventure series by acclaimed children's author Dan Gutman should appeal to the 8-12 year old crowd (maybe even up to 14 or so) who like caper series like the 39 Clues. The heroes are a pair of twins with the unlikely names of Coke and Pepsi McDonald, who, unbeknownst to them, have been enrolled in a secret government program, The Genius Files, designed to spot the smartest kids in the country and make them into super agents. Gutman knows what kids like, and this is a real kid pleaser. Parents and teachers will like how Gutman weaves in a story of a cross-country trip in which the McDonalds and their parents visit all kinds of quirky state attractions. You can even follow along through Google maps, and the book is illustrated with lots of photos of these unusual places. All in all, a fun read, and kids who enjoy it will be looking forward to the sequels! This could be a fun classroom read-aloud since teachers could incorporate geography lessons along the way.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I teach 5th grade and all of my students know who Dan Gutman is. They have read most of his books before coming into my class. This series is great for 4th and 4th graders because it's not too easy but a quick and fun read. Boys and girls alike love this series. The kids love that the main characters names are Coke and Pepsi McDonald and that they can go on the computer to see all the places the twins stop. The book has great action, a dynamic twin duo and fun places to learn about as the McDonald twins try to avoid being killed as they ride along with their parents in a RV. I have read all the books in The Genius Files series and would highly recommend the books!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Weaving through the landscape of America with a fun story, pre-teen twins Coke and Pepsi are a lively and intelligent duo. Targeted for a young audience, even an adult can appreciate the intelligence Dan Gutman weaves into this book. It is likely to leave readers thirsty for the sequel.

A secret government program has labeled Coke and Pepsi McDonald as "genuis" material. Despite their parents carelessly throwing away their enrollment papers, Coke and Pepsi are practically forced to join. Being attacked by "bowler dudes" and a vindictive health teacher, the twins narrowly escape situations with their life. Thankfully, they have Bones and Mya to look after them along the way. On their cross country RV tour to their aunt's wedding, they encounter many quirks and tourist traps in the American landscape. Often, they use these features or aspects of these features to their advantage later. Any time the twins pick something up, they later use it to their advantage.

I appreciated the secret codes given in the book with author realistically documenting the metacognition of the twins as they tried to solve the codes. I must admit that I did not solve all of the codes until the answer was presented. The codes added a nice dimension to the book.

The villain that masterminds the plot against Coke and Pepsi is a sinister surprise. The author leaves the door open just enough for the sequel. Where will the road take our friend with the soft drink monikers? I can not wait to find out in the sequel.
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