Brainboy and the Deathmaster
by Tor Seidler
When you first meet Darryl Kirby, he is in a lot of pain. His entire family has just been killed in a tragic fire, and his guilt and grief are so great that he cant even think about it. You find him lying on a bed in an orphanage, barely eating or speaking at all, clinging to the one thing he has left: a video game created by the great Keith Masterly.
Coincidentally, Keith Masterly also owns the Seattle orphanage where Darryl Kirby lives. He owns a lot of orphanages. And the orphans have the privilege of playing Masterlys most advanced computer games. Games that, secretly, test the intelligence of the children who play them. Darryl turns out to be extremely intelligent...which is why Keith Masterly shows up at the orphanage and offers to adopt him.
Its funny how that happens, just when Darryl was starting to find happiness again with another family a fat, friendly woman named Mrs. Walker and her son, Darryls age, named BJ. What hurts BJ the most is the way Darryl just disappears and never calls or anything. BJ teams up with another orphan cigarette-smoking, street-wise, bad-role-model Boris to search for answers about what happened to Darryl and Boris genius sister Nina.
Meanwhile, Darryl and Nina have NOT been adopted. They have been drugged and taken to a top-secret think tank where, along with several other smart kids, they are supposed to be looking for a cure to the aging process. Darryl actually finds the cure, just as the kids start to understand the part they are playing in Masterlys ruthless plan. Suddenly an escape plot turns into a desperate bid for survival.
The main plot of this book is your standard, run-of-the-mill adventure story. What makes this a special book is the way it combines that plot with an understanding of hurting, vulnerable, and sometimes not-so-virtuous kids. It sympathizes with poor families, troubled and broken families, the loves and hopes and guilts that hold families together and sometimes split them apart. I think the story itself would have plenty of appeal to any early-teen reader. But the heart of this book is in its characters and the sympathy that it builds for them.
Recommended Age: 12+
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