From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—To Samara, 13, who isn't in it for the money, setting up a blackjack table at lunch seems like a good way to make friends. Then, when she gets called to the principal, she proposes to use the school's electron microscope to show that she and the other kids are just the same, at the genetic level, so they should be punished in the same way. When Samara's DNA ends up looking like symbols in the ancient Phaistos Disk and the Voynich Manuscript, everyone has questions about her identity. These questions remain largely ignored when the results are stolen, with Samara and her pals Lily and Nathan the main suspects. Told in three alternating points of view, the story touches on issues of science versus religion (with both looking ridiculous). It is a funny, fast-paced read, with some lingering questions about belief, science, and the supernatural for readers to mull over.—Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD
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Under pressure from her adoptive parents to “fit in” better during the new school year, Samara is soon busted for running a gambling table in the cafeteria. She convinces the principal not to contact her parents but instead to let her conduct a science experiment showing that she doesn’t deserve more punishment than the gamblers. Samara allies herself with two of her former lunchtime customers: class president Lily, who is influenced by a televangelist minister, and Nathan, who is obsessed with secret codes and believes that “God is an alien.” Events spiral out of control after someone breaks into the science lab and a police investigation begins. Narrated by Samara, Lily, and Nathan in rotation, the fast-paced story is engaging, though some plot twists and minor characters are unconvincing, and the ending is disappointing in several respects. Ehrenhaft may have taken on too much in a short novel, juggling adoption issues, teen gambling addiction, genetics, historical codes, and religion. Still, with its intelligence and understated emotions, Samara’s wry narrative, in particular, has its appeal. Grades 6-8. --Carolyn Phelan