Welcome to the worst fear of the anti-vaccination movement: A group of teens develop telepathy from flu shots.
Homeroom 10B at New York’s Bloomberg High School is a pretty typical collection of sophomores. Olivia is extremely shy, outgoing Cooper and pretty Mackenzie are the golden couple, Tess has a crush on her friend Teddy, and Pi would do anything to be top of the class. But a contaminated flu shot lets the 22 students hear everyone’s thoughts, leading to a wealth of welcome and unwelcome discoveries. Mackenzie has cheated on Cooper, Tess learns that Teddy likes someone else, and Pi can steal answers from her competition during tests. This newfound ability and the need to keep it secret knit together the members of 10B in unexpected ways. But when the truth comes out, and the Centers for Disease Control announces they have an antidote that will remove the telepathy, what will the self-nicknamed Espies do? The multiple characters are remarkably distinctive, and the plot moves along briskly, combining family drama, complicated romance and friendship turmoil into a compelling view of teen dynamics. When the group comments like a Greek chorus on one character’s thoughts or actions, it’s somewhat jarring, but that’s a minor quibble.
Overall, a solid, comical sci-fi romp. (Science fiction. 12-16)