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Everest: Book One: The Contest

by Gordon Korman

First published at 14 with over 45 books to his credit, Gordon Korman is a force of nature. His last trilogy, Island, sold more than 240,000 copies in Canada alone. This new trilogy pits his young protagonists against one of nature’s most awesome symbols – Mount Everest.

Dominic, 13, has won one of five wildcard spots for a four-week intensive boot camp competition in Colorado.These five kids join 15 of the top young mountaineers in the country. Once there, a legendary mountaineer puts them through a torturous training process, cutting a few each week until a final five are chosen to comprise the youngest team ever to try to reach the summit of Everest.

Korman gets away with pencil strokes for his outsized characters. Along with Dominic, there’s Chris, his older brother; Tilt Crowly, a ruthless poor boy; Bryn Fielder, the country’s top female alpinist; Samantha Moon, a fearless 15-year-old; and Perry Noonan, whose billionaire uncle is footing the bill for the entire expedition. The competition is cutthroat and questions abound. Who’s leaking information to a tabloid? Who’s vandalizing the camp? And most importantly, who will make it to the top?

Korman expertly conveys back-story through snippets of medical logs and press coverage and weaves in logistical and technical information while somehow never letting the action slow. Scholastic supports the trilogy with great web pages but that’s just icing. The addictive premise of a Survivor format and the crevice-hanger ending are lures enough.