Official Review: Masterminders by Tara Basi

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Lest92
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Official Review: Masterminders by Tara Basi

Post by Lest92 » 03 Feb 2018, 04:03

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Masterminders" by Tara Basi.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Few books have amused me as much as Tara Basi’s literary humour novel Masterminders. Set on the windblown Small Island somewhere off Britain, the story chronicles narrator Terry’s one year with Bobby as a member of their Masterminders duo, hatching plans for quick financial gain or dabbling in philosophy from their base on the school playground.

Driven by low funds to rediscover her Catholicism, Terry’s mother enrols him at Small Island’s Catholic primary school. There he meets Bobby, the brighter half of the Masterminders. The Masterminders try solving such problems as global warming, women’s troubles and politics with a variety of schemes and dodges thought up by Bobby while Terry remains his baffled sidekick, whether they reach the brink of complete failure or have just a taste of success. Meanwhile, they contend with and try to outsmart the Power Three, the trio of playground bullies, among which is Madge, Terry’s cheese grater wielding love interest. The eccentric Small Islanders often aid Terry and Bobby with their missions, chief among them Mr Singh of the Post Office, Chips and Sweets Emporium. While most of the Masterminders’ cunning plans led to entertaining calamities, the book takes a serious turn when Terry learns that Bobby’s father is terminally ill. Terry, in his dim but good-hearted way, is determined to help, and without Bobby’s knowledge, sets in motion a Masterminders charity scheme on his own, with the help of Small Island’s citizens.

This book had me laughing from the first page; its deadpan wit will appeal to readers who appreciate subtle humour. Masterminders reminded me of Ben Elton sitcoms and the tone of Adrian Mole, which indicates what a reader can expect from the book. Each chapter deals with a specific problem the boys try to solve, or a subject they want to master. I think the chapter “Politics” is brilliant; at the start of their campaign to establish a one-party state in the school with Bobby as Supreme Leader and Emperor, he patiently explains to Terry that politics is “Never lying to people while avoiding, at all cost, telling the truth.”

Apart from some small editing errors, the writing is intricate, clever, and a delight on its own. Since Masterminders has the plot as its focus, the characters are quick sketches and archetypes. It would have undermined the witty quality of the book if Basi had lingered on her characters’ inner lives. We know Bobby and Terry by their works, and the rest of the cast by their levels of eccentricity. Mr McStrumpy, former world sheep-throwing champion, stands out as the most Pythonesque character in Masterminders.

As I have to consider the editing errors, I’ll rate Masterminders 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to children, teens, and readers who enjoy fine comedy, clever writing and absurdly funny stories.

[The publisher has reported that the minor editing errors noted by the reviewer have now been fixed.]

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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Feb 2018, 15:01

This isn't quite what I thought it would be. It sounds so interesting. I like stories with humor like this one. I'm seriously going to look further at this one. Thanks!
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Post by Lest92 » 11 Feb 2018, 15:10

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
11 Feb 2018, 15:01
This isn't quite what I thought it would be. It sounds so interesting. I like stories with humor like this one. I'm seriously going to look further at this one. Thanks!
I also expected something else, but the surprise was worth it, definitely :)

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Post by Nat Con55 » 11 Feb 2018, 18:50

8) Wasn’t what I thought it would be either
But it sounds interesting and I definitely would like tho hear the outcome of it!

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Post by Kalin Adi » 11 Feb 2018, 20:41

This duo has called my attention since they're interested in such an important topic like women's trouble. That's cute and funny. I can clearly see why this duo encounters failing plans. Too bad about the errors, though. Thanks for this fascinating review!

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 11 Feb 2018, 21:48

Very unexpected novel. I noticed there were trying times in the main protagonists life and also unexpected turns of events. Looking forward to it! Thanks for the details!
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Post by vinodsai » 11 Feb 2018, 22:15

I love to know more about how Bobby and Terry try to solve problems like Global warming, Women's troubles, and politics and how they overcome Power Three. This book gets Interesting. Thanks for your insightful review.

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Post by Kat Berg » 12 Feb 2018, 01:56

I sometimes wonder why authors pick the covers that they do. The cover of this book would not lead you to believe it was funny or clever (or, at least, it doesn't me). Cover aside, I do like humor in my reading, so this is a book that I will put on my ever-lengthening list of books to check out.

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Post by Lest92 » 12 Feb 2018, 03:59

Kalin Adi wrote: ↑
11 Feb 2018, 20:41
This duo has called my attention since they're interested in such an important topic like women's trouble. That's cute and funny. I can clearly see why this duo encounters failing plans. Too bad about the errors, though. Thanks for this fascinating review!
The errors were really small things, noticeable but not too much of a bother*

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Post by Lest92 » 12 Feb 2018, 04:01

Kat Berg wrote: ↑
12 Feb 2018, 01:56
I sometimes wonder why authors pick the covers that they do. The cover of this book would not lead you to believe it was funny or clever (or, at least, it doesn't me). Cover aside, I do like humor in my reading, so this is a book that I will put on my ever-lengthening list of books to check out.

It does suggest dark things :D Maybe they were going for a bit of gravitas in all the laughter.

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Post by NL Hartje » 12 Feb 2018, 04:53

Lest92 wrote: ↑
03 Feb 2018, 04:03
they contend with and try to outsmart the Power Three
For whatever reason, this made me chuckle aloud. I can so imagine teen kids naming their nemesis clique. Too cute!
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Post by CommMayo » 12 Feb 2018, 10:11

Sounds like Basi weaved an interesting cast of characters into a highly amusing and interesting novel. Thank you for sharing your review.

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Post by inaramid » 12 Feb 2018, 11:10

Wow, that cover though. Talk about subverting expectations. That said, this seems like something I'd enjoy. That quote you provided about politics is so compelling. I'd love to read the rest of this book. Thanks for your review.

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Post by cristinaro » 15 Feb 2018, 06:26

I loved your review. Without it, merely judging by the title and cover page, I would have never picked this book up. I think it's highly interesting to see society's problems through children's eyes. It should make us reconsider things from time to time. Thank you for a very good review.
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Post by Lest92 » 15 Feb 2018, 06:42

cristinaro wrote: ↑
15 Feb 2018, 06:26
I loved your review. Without it, merely judging by the title and cover page, I would have never picked this book up. I think it's highly interesting to see society's problems through children's eyes. It should make us reconsider things from time to time. Thank you for a very good review.
Thank you:) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

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