Six middle schoolers + mad scientists + Everglades = adventure.
Cat, along with five other children who have suffered head injuries, goes to what is billed as the pre-eminent neurological center in the world, the International Center for Advanced Neurology, located in the Everglades. At first, she receives excellent care, but she soon overhears an ominous conversation that leads to her discovery of the awful truth: The terrible Dr. Ames and his colleague intend to implant the children with the DNA of long-dead scientists, including Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Marie Curie and even Leonardo da Vinci. Worse, they learn that Trent, who has already received a transplant, has virtually become Thomas Edison. Trent not only has Edison’s DNA, he has Edison’s century-old memories and speech patterns. Cat and her friends seize an opportunity to escape, relying on Trent’s technical expertise and “inherited” memory to evade the bad guys. As she outlines in her author’s note, Messner follows good science in her descriptions of head-injury treatment; she also gives teachers opportunities to explore the differences between hereditary and acquired characteristics in her more fictional genetic “science.” Her characterizations are solid and age-appropriate; Trent, as young Thomas Edison still avidly working on alternating currents, supplies some laughs.
With plenty of thrills, friendship, some humor, intrigue and an easy good-guys/bad-guys escape plot, young readers will find lots of fun here. (Science fiction. 10-14)