N.E.R.D.S. by Michael Buckley

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Jackson didn’t used to be observant; he didn’t need to be.  He was a star football player, and the most popular kid in school.  He split his time mostly between sports and torturing the “nerd herd,” the allergic, asthmatic, geeky weirdos at the bottom rung of the social ladder.  But then came the diagnosis that would doom his social life: Jackson needed braces.  Not just braces.  The most convoluted, horrific, uncool metal headgear imaginable.  At first he hoped that his friends wouldn’t judge him based on the new braces, but alas, Jackson plummeted down to the bottom of the ladder almost immediately.  That is when he became observant.  No one talks to him, so he begins to notice things about people.  And when he notices that the nerd herd has a strange habit of sneezing all at the same time and then disappearing from class, Jackson decides to figure out what they’re up to.  His spying lands him in a secret laboratory where a strange computer takes him hostage and upgrades his braces with nanotechnology to turn them into some sort of robotic fighting machine and a secret agent named Brand invites him to join a super-secret espionage team.  It turns out that this team is made up of none other than the nerd herd who are not particularly delighted to have their former tormentor on board.  Still, they might need all the help they can get if they want to have any hope of stopping the evil Dr. Jigsaw from achieving world domination.

N.E.R.D.S. is a very silly, quirky, sci-fi adventure with a healthy blend of action, slapstick comedy, bathroom humor, and parodies of comic book cliches.  It will likely appeal very much to upper elementary and middle grade readers.  A sequel follows: NERDS 2: M is for Mama’s Boy.

If you like the N.E.R.D.S. series, you might like the Lunch Lady books by Jarrett Krosoczka.

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