Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Masterminds (Masterminds, #1)” as Want to Read:
Masterminds (Masterminds, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Masterminds #1)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  8,698 ratings  ·  1,203 reviews
The first book in the action-packed trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Gordon Korman is perfect for fans of Stranger Things and James Patterson.

Eli Frieden has never left Serenity, New Mexico...why would he ever want to? Then one day, he bikes to the edge of the city limits and something so crazy and unexpected happens, it changes everything.

Eli convinces his
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Balzer & Bray
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Masterminds, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Faith Bello I very much agree. Masterminds is the best book ever, and there is not nearly enough fandom. I've looked all over pinterest and found all masterminds …moreI very much agree. Masterminds is the best book ever, and there is not nearly enough fandom. I've looked all over pinterest and found all masterminds pins possible. I'm glad I can find at least a few Masterminders. (My fandom name for masterminds.) BTW, is your name really Tori? Cause, that would be really cool.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,698 ratings  ·  1,203 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Masterminds (Masterminds, #1)
Rick Riordan
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As usual, Gordon Korman delivers a fast-paced, well-crafted adventure full of creative twists and surprises. Eli lives in Serenity, New Mexico, which is so perfect it seems too good to be true. Everybody has a nice house. The schools are great. There is zero crime and zero unemployment. Eli has never left his hometown, but one day he discovers something that shakes his world. Serenity is not what it seems. He and his friends can’t trust anyone – not their neighbors, definitely not their parents. ...more
Jun 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
So, Masterminds by Gordon Korman, an introduction to dystopia for 10-13 year olds, seems like a good idea, or not. Keep reading for the big, angry, but still important rant about a huge issue in this book, but first, a quick description. The kids in this book live in a secluded, idyllic community called Serenity in New Mexico. Every one is honest, trustworthy, law abiding and loyal. The kids study meditation and do contentment projects. And then a group of kids start to figure out that things ar ...more
Michele Knott
Loved this book. I would have loved this as a kid, and I loved it as an adult.
Mystery, suspense, adventure, hi-jinks, twists and turns. Korman has written a book with a Dan Brown-feel to it. It's smart and thoroughly enjoyable. Do you need to suspend belief? A bit but the fun of the book outweighs the disbelief.
This goes on my summer recommendation list for students for sure!
Sara-Zoe Patterson
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5thgrade
YAY! It's conspiracy fiction for kids and sooooo much fun. I don't want to say too much but I giggled out loud in glee when I got to the key aspect of the conspiracy. Kids are going to love this. I'm ready for the sequel right now! ...more
Ms. Yingling
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So, so good! Edelweiss has a digital ARC. review to come, but thought it was brilliant! Korman rocks!
Sheila Beaumont
This is a totally riveting page-turner of a conspiracy thriller for kids, in which several young teens living in an isolated, seemingly idyllic community find out that they have a shocking link to some notorious criminal masterminds. I was halfway through this book when I decided I must get hold of the two sequels immediately.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anthony Ryan
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think that the book was outstanding it was intriguing and unpredictable. Gordon Korman was very good at explaining what was happening where it was taking place and how it affected everyone else in the story. The balance of action and suspense was also incredible. This book was an easy 5 stars for me.

Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition



It’s so good as always

UPDATE: my friend told me she read it and she loved it (mission accomplished)
✨Gayatri ✨
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That was rly good. Cant wait 2 read the next one
Kadi P
*Light spoilers below. Heavy spoilers are hidden in spoiler tags. Read at your own discretion!*

Well, this was disappointing. Too slow. Much too slow! Maybe I'd be able to forgive that if the characters were likeable, but they weren't. The only good, interesting and likeable character, Randy, was gone within about 4 chapters of the book. And the 2 seconds which he appeared in at the end was the only thing that made me smile in the last 40% of the book. He had more charisma in his only sentence in
Eli Frieden and his friends in Serenity, New Mexico are living the happy, pampered life, that on the surface of things, seems ideal. Yet, they never leave, not even for a day trip, vacation, or school field trip. Something keeps them within the confines of this isolated community....why would anyone want to leave, their parents tell them, everything we would want or need is here. Yet, one day, as Eli and his best friend try to go beyond the city limits, something strange and foreboding happens. ...more
Jillian Neyhart
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book that posed an interesting question and experiment. I don't want to spoil the plot, so I'll just say that it made be curious to find out what is going to happen to these kids. I can't wait for book 2! ...more
Barb Middleton
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopia
This is one of those books that most people liked and I couldn't remember the title two days after I had read it. When that happens I sort of wonder if I was having a bad-book-reading day or jet-lag brain. I had been on a plane traveling for 20 hours so maybe the neurons were short-circuiting? Whatever the reason I found it hard to get into the beginning with all the multiple points of view, was reminded of Haddix's "Running Out of Time," in the middle and figured out quite a bit of the plot, an ...more
Matthew Largo
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Awesome! it was one of my favorite books. Its definitely worth to buy. If your into books that give suspense, this is your kind of book to read. eli frieden lives in a town called serenity, but he has never gone past the town limits. So when eli and his friends go to the edge, they find a big secret about there town. So eli and his friends try to make it out.
Leigh Anne
This book is classic Gordon Korman! It is an adventure story with a plot twist you would never imagine. If you have not read this yet, I highly encourage you to move it up on your list. Brilliant...just brilliant!
Michelle Simpson
I can't believe I missed reading this one until now! This is a fantastic book full of interesting characters, along with action and suspense. The audio version contains different voices for various characters and provides a great listening experience. ...more
Bea Elwood
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sixth-grade
Even better the second time...

Nov. 22, 2015 I think Korman is one of the best young adult writers out there. Sure it took six hours to read this book but I hardly noticed the time it was so absorbing
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow, a great read! I can't wait to discuss this one. Gordon Korman isn't my fave author by any means, but this book was a riveting sci-Fi novel. I think young readers will be fascinated by the idea of living in a society that isn't as it seems. ...more
This boook!!! I'm not a huge fan of dystopian novels; however, this book was amazing and had so many different elements that I did not expect. I loved it. And I definitely will be doing a full review and checking out the second book. ...more
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It was a well-written story although I did get distracted with the language at times. It seemed some of the dialogue was too stuffy/adult to really be coming from kids. It kept me engaged throughout however, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel!
Terri Haynes
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Good character development and the mystery and plot twist was nicely done.
Julie Johnson
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The suspense in This book kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. This is definitely being added to my classroom library.
Shawn Schwerman
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Great start to the series, already bought the second one. Wonderful concept
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Page. Turned. Holy. Cow.

This author is taking middle grade books by storm!
Danielle Norris
May 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!!
If you have a middle grade student.... run as fast as you can and buy this book, if you love middle grade books, run...

I attended a webinar by the Junior Library Guild about books to read over the summer. The third book of the trilogy was on that list, and of course as every reader knows you have to start at the beginning of any series or trilogy. I ordered the first two books because they were both in paperback.
I devoured this book, The only reason I did not read it
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good book! Some minor things are questionable here that I don't really want to mention but other than that, it's not so bad! I like Gordon Korman's writing style and the characters. Just a couple of uses of the words OMG (not 'oh my goodness' or something like that) but I ignored it pretty well. One more thing that bothered me was when one of the characters dies, the rest get it over with more quickly than they should. I do wish he'd tell us what the characters look like, but o ...more
K.M. Montemayor
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this with my son during the Corona Virus lockdown. I was very impressed with the story. Reminds me of Anna to the Infinite Power, which was one of my favorite books growing up.
It kept us both guessing until the end. We can't wait to start on the second book in the series.
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is not what it seems... in the beginning, you think you know what the story is going to be and you say, "Huh, interesting," but by the end, you're saying, "I want to read MORE." Get ready for some unexpected twists and turns. This book was fun to read, and I can't wait to get the next one. I would recommend this to any long-time Gordon Korman readers, fans sci-fi - realistic fiction, and anyone who wants to sit down and read some good adventure. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mission Unstoppable (The Genius Files, #1)
  • Framed! (Framed #1)
  • Space Case (Moon Base Alpha, #1)
  • Scared Stiff
  • City Spies (City Spies, #1)
  • Vanished! (Framed #2)
  • Trapped! (Framed #3)
  • Codename Zero (The Codename Conspiracy #1)
  • Spy School Secret Service (Spy School, #5)
  • Evil Spy School (Spy School #3)
  • Loot (Loot #1)
  • Crisis Zero (The Codename Conspiracy, #3)
  • Spy School Revolution
  • Spy Camp (Spy School #2)
  • Countdown Zero (The Codename Conspiracy, #2)
  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #1)
  • Belly Up (FunJungle, #1)
  • Never Say Genius (The Genius Files, #2)
See similar books…
Korman wrote his first book, "This Can't be Happening at Macdonald Hall", when he was 12 years old, for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English. He later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in "The Sixth Grade Nickname Game", wherein Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.

Korman moved to New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While i

Other books in the series

Masterminds (3 books)
  • Criminal Destiny (Masterminds, #2)
  • Payback (Masterminds, #3)

Related Articles

If you're a fan of the mystery and thriller genre and young adult books, recent months have brought a bevy of great reads to your shelves! We...
140 likes · 21 comments
“anger is the emotion of a lesser person.” 2 likes
“It seems like cheating somehow, breaking some overarching Law of the Way Things Are Supposed to Be.” 1 likes
More quotes…