Desperate to spice up life in his small, North Dakota town, seventh-grader Carson Fender has secured his position as Erik Hill Middle School’s number-one prankster.
But shortly after Carson orchestrates the release of a herd of fainting goats on school grounds, life in Minot gets a whole lot more interesting…and it doesn’t have anything to do with the goats. When a strange man unloads a mysterious package on Carson and informs him that “the fate of the world depends” on him delivering it to a Mr. Jensen, it becomes clear that there’s more going on in this small town than he ever imagined, and Carson is now at the heart of it all. With its high-stakes secret missions, gadgets and underground government agencies, readers in search of a solid middle-grade spy novel will find plenty to enjoy here. Carson is a funny and engaging protagonist, and readers will relate to both his longing for a more interesting life and his angst once he finds it. Though Carson has an intriguing cast of close friends, including a deliciously unapologetic, conspiracy-theorist best friend, one of the novel’s greatest shortcomings is that they don’t play a larger role in the story.
Still, this is an exciting, zippy read that will leave readers wondering if there’s more to their own hometowns than meets the eye. (Thriller. 9-12)