Sunday, June 23, 2013

Book Review: The Cheerleaders of Doom by Michael Buckley (NERDS #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Another fun spy story with heavy science fiction elements
Cons: Ending seemed abrupt
The Bottom Line
Evil cheerleaders
Watch Matilda become one
So she can stop them

Infiltrating Cheerleaders

Two years ago, I was just starting to read Michael Buckley's books when he started the NERDS series.  I picked up the first one, not quite knowing what to expect.  What I found was a very fun spy spoof that kept me laughing.  Book three is now out.  While The Cheerleaders of Doom isn't my favorite entry in the series, it's still fun.

The series follows a team of top secret agents for the US government who happen to be students at Nathan Hale Elementary School.  They are all members of the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society (the acronym is unfortunate).  Each of them have been given upgrades to their flaws that turn them into strengths they use to defeat the ultra-bad guys they face.  There's a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure, with this book having the most.

Each book focuses on a different member of the team, and this time we following the adventures of Matilda Choi.  Matilda's co-name is Wheezer since she has asthma.  But her inhalers have been upgraded to include rockets that propel her into flight.

Matilda is the opposite of a girly girl, and she has taken to the fighting training she gotten as part of NERDS.  So she is horrified when she is given her latest assignment - infiltrate a group of cheerleaders.

The reason for this assignment?  A former member of NERDS has created a device that allows her to travel to alternative dimensions and rob them.  She's used her illegal gains to buy plastic surgery and then become a competitive cheerleader.  As the strains in the fabric separating our universes become even wider, can Matilda keep her cover and find the right cheerleader?

If you are looking for something slightly realistic, then don't even bother.  But if you can buy into the premise, you'll find that the entire story holds together very well.  Some of the universes the characters wind up in are actually pretty funny, leading to some wild escapes.  The story moved quickly, and I found myself turning pages very quickly.

While each book focuses on one character more than the others, I felt the rest of the regular cast was used less than normal this time around.  But then again, since much of the book has Matilda undercover, it would be hard to use them more.  And it was nice to finally get to know one of the girls on the team better.  Much of the character development was predictable, but it was still believable.

My only complaint with the book was the climax.  Maybe it's because the ending was quite what I expected, but I felt like it was rushed and didn't fully resolve everything.  Then again, considering how there is an on-going plot line that is tying into every book, maybe the parts I think are unresolved are actually a set up for future stories.  I guess we'll find out in future books.

These books are aimed at late elementary school kids.  A couple scenes might be a little intense for those who can't stand much suspense, but almost all of them will enjoy this book.

This was a fun entry in the NERDS series.  The only doom associated with The Cheerleaders of Doom is if you skip this book.

To avoid spoilers from earlier books, I do recommend reading the NERDS Novels in order.

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