by Michael Buckley
If you could have your weakness upgraded and turned into a super power, what strength do you think you would have?
I came to the NERDS series just as the fourth had been published. I have a hard time with name calling even if it’s supposed to be funny. I know – snap judgments are not usually accurate – but I passed these books by in the bookstore with just a glance. Then Ellie started reading them. “Read from here to here,” she’d say. “It’s funny.” She was right. It was. While she was enjoying books one, two and three, talk of The Sisters Grimm series was filling our classroom. That’s when I noticed they had the same author. I loved his writing in the Sisters Grimm books. “Okay,” I thought. “Time to give this a chance. It’s obviously not what you thought.”
I read the first as summer vacation started and just finished M is for Mama’s Boy, the second this week. The third and fourth are sitting in one of my to-be-read piles. I’ll get to them soon. The NERDS are school-aged secret agents who save the world. Selected for the team because of their unique qualities, these perceived weaknesses have been highlighted and upgraded with nanotechnology to create super skills. Together the team has the resources and abilities to save the world from every and any super villain. The villain in this case is Simon. He has reappeared with squirrel squadron to do his bidding – along with one Goon.
When the robberies begin happening there is no sense of urgency. Just another bad guy to be stopped, but Albert Nesbitt notices something odd. He spends his time locked in the basement of his mother’s house watching TV, building computers, reading graphic novels and dreaming of becoming a super hero. Albert dreams of doing good in the world and of becoming Captain Justice. Somehow his dream is twisted around and he becomes entangled with Simon, the evil genius bent on humiliating the NERDS and taking over the world by controlling every computer on Earth.
In disabling Earth’s computers, Simon also disables the super power upgrades of the NERDS. That’s especially challenging for Duncan, a.k.a. Gluestick. Always a thoughtful, kind person, Duncan isn’t sure he has any worth without his special powers or his gadgets and gizmos. Duncan loses confidence. He’s sure he can’t do anything. He can’t fit in even when he is trying to be “normal.” But, he realizes he also can’t sit around and see his family threatened or let his friends face life-threatening danger alone. Can “ordinary “save the world? Maybe. You’ll have to read M is for Mama’s Boy to find out.