Eleanor Amplified and the Trouble with Mind Control

Running Pr. Sept. 2021. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780762498833.
Gr 3-7–Life has changed drastically at Brighton Middle School since a tech corporation stepped in to provide every student with VR headsets, personal tablets, and suspicious smart foods—and not for the better. Seventh grader Miku Tangeroa (race unspecified) knows something’s amiss, but her investigative journalism skills alone aren’t enough to find out what. Instead, she turns to her hero, ace reporter and radio host Eleanor Amplified, who embarks on an undercover mission as a substitute social studies teacher. Together with Miku’s friends and another teacher, they work to crack open a case that links Miku’s middle school troubles with Eleanor’s preexisting examination of a shady manufacturer. The plot of this novel is fast paced and exciting in its interrogation of the corporate takeover of classrooms. The third act twist does, however, disappoint in replacing this line of thinking with an arc that strains credulity. The diverse cast of characters is well rounded and fun to follow; the narrative alternates between third-person perspectives of Miku’s and Eleanor’s exploits.
VERDICT The ending leaves space for the launch of a new series that fans of middle grade mystery and of the eponymous podcast where Eleanor Amplified originated will enjoy.

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