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“How’d you like to discover that your while life is a lie, the people you thought were your parents are mad scientists, and you only exist to be part of some experiment?” Hector. –Criminal Destiny
by Gordon Korman
The clones of project Osiris are now free – but they’re being hunted. After their narrow escape from their “perfect” hometown, Eli, Tori, Amber, and Malik are finally in the real world and are determined to expose the leaders of the other world, Serenity. They decide to track down Tamara Dunleavy, the mysterious billionaire and founder of Project Osiris. Evading capture by breaking laws and sneaking into houses, hotels, buses, and cars—are they becoming the criminals they were destined to be?
What they learn will change everything and lead them straight back into the Plastic Works and the heart of the experiment in order to uncover the deadly criminals they’re cloned from—and find evidence that will convince the outside world to believe the truth. But the outside world isn’t exactly what they expected. Strangers aren’t just unfriendly, they’re dangerous. The wrong move could send them right back into the arms of Dr. Hammerstrom and leave them trapped in Serenity for good.
The story revolves around five characters—Eli, Malik, Hector, Tori, and Amber—and each chapter changes between these characters’ points of view. This allows the reader to understand each character’s thought process, which helps build their character. Each person struggles with the knowledge of being cloned from a criminal, but each one reacts to it differently and sometimes in surprising ways.
The story Criminal Intent has non-stop action as the kids discover how the real world works. As the kids try to navigate the real world, their misunderstandings lead to some hilarious comments. The kids truly believe that they need to break Rackoff, one of the criminals a kid is cloned from, out of prison in order to have a future. His escape is “a ticket for eleven clones to be able to prove who they are, and what’s been done to them. And maybe, just maybe, have a future.” Because of this belief, the kids are willing to commit crimes in exchange for his help.
While the conclusion is somewhat far-fetched, it also has several surprises and ends with a cliff-hanger. The kids are so busy evading the Purples, the police, and other people, that they do not have time to learn anything about Project Osiris. Unfortunately, the kids’ only plan is to find help from one of the criminals that they were cloned from. While Criminal Intent has humor and action, the kids have no real idea how they are going to have a future separate from the scientists from Project Osiris, which includes their parents. Instead of solving any problems, this action-packed story sets up an exciting third book, Payback.
- The Purple People Eaters try to capture the kids. When a Purple tries to grab Tori, Malik “barrels out from a group of students and makes a bull run at him. Malik crashes headfirst into the Purple’s midsection. . . the element of surprise knocks him on his butt.”
- As the kids try to escape, a Purple grabs Malik. “Secret Agent Man gets Malik in a headlock. And the next thing he knows, his own car is coming at him, chewing up turf. The rear door swings open, catching him in the side of the head.” The kids escape without seriously injuring anyone. The scene is described over three pages.
- While in Denver, the kids see a man being mugged in an alleyway. “Scruffy has the suit guy up against the wall and is holding the knife to his back. . .” Amber jumps in to help. “Scruffy wheels and now the knife is pointing at Amber. . . She starts lecturing the crook in what sounds eerily like her mother’s teacher voice.” The confused crook runs off.
- The kids see a man digging through their backpacks. Amber goes after the guy. She jumps over a table and her “front foot gets tangled with his two fleeing ones. We both go down . . . there’s a thwack as his head hits the base of the tree.” The man is knocked unconscious and the kids take off.
- A group of teens is lounging around the kids’ car. “Amber reaches out, grabs the leader’s leg just above the boot, and gives a mighty yank. He comes flying off the hood and lands in a heap on the pavement on the parking lot.” When a teen tries to grab Amber, “Malik’s fist shoots out like a battering ram, catching the kid full in the nose.” The teenagers back off and leave. The scene is described over two pages.
- The kids’ research who they were cloned from. One of the men was sentenced to “over three hundred years behind bars. . . He was stabbed to death by another inmate last year.”
- Late at night, Tori sees a man enter the hotel room. She grabs a metal wastebasket. “I’m out of bed, across the room, and swinging my weapon at the shadowy figure.” The person turns out to be her friend, Eli. His head is bleeding, but not hurt badly.
- While trying to help someone escape from prison, the kids steal a postal service truck. Malik threatens the driver with a crowbar. “Malik drops the crowbar and enfolds the postal worker in a wrestling hug. George struggles against him, but Malik is just as big as he is, and strong. . .” Eli uses a maneuver he learned on the internet to make George pass out.
- When the Purples find the kids, someone grabs Eli “strangling [him] with [his] own collar.” Eli gets the syringe and “wielding it like a knife, I get to my knees and stab it into my enemy’s thigh. He stops dead, letting out a gasp of pain that’s instantly familiar.” The man “collapses to the ground out cold.”
- Bryan, a Purple, grabs Tori and Eli rushes to help. “I come up behind him and stab the needle into the back of his shoulder. . . Bryan drops like a stone.”
- Eli threatens a pilot with the syringe, so the pilot flies Eli and Tori away. When they get to their destination, Eli pricks the pilot “with the needle, careful to inject a small amount of tranquilizer into the back of his neck.” The escape scene is described over seven pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- When the Purples find the kids, a doctor tries to tranquilize the kids with a “syringe filled with some kind of cloudy liquid.” Eli is able to get the syringe and he uses it on several people.
- Malik thinks about his friend Hector. “Poor stupid, pain-in-the-butt little Hector, who died during our escape from Happy Valley.” Later when Malik discovers Hector is alive, he says, “I wasted a lot of sad on your unworthy butt.”
- There is some name calling, including pinheads, dimwit, moron, idiot, jerk, and stupid
- While trying to steal a truck, the victim tells Malik, “you’re bat-poop crazy.”