46 pages 1 hour read

Gordon Korman


Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2021

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Summary and Study Guide


Unplugged (January 2021) is a standalone novel by Canadian American children’s author Gordon Korman. Korman began writing as a teenager, and in a career that spans four decades, he has penned more than 90 middle-grade and teen novels. His works have sold 35 million copies worldwide, and his 39 Clues series has reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Korman has also received multiple reader’s choice and best book awards from various organizations during his long career. His Masterminds Trilogy, which has been optioned for film, includes Masterminds (2015), Masterminds: Criminal Destiny (2016), and Masterminds: Payback (2017). Other titles of note include The Unteachables (2019), Ungifted (2012), and Supergifted (2018).

Unplugged falls under the categories of Children’s Books on Friendship and Children’s Mystery, Detective, & Spy Fiction. The book is intended for readers aged 9-12. The story is set at a fictional wellness camp called the Oasis of Mind and Body Wellness. It is located in the wilds of Arkansas, about three hours away from Little Rock by car. The events take place over a period of about three weeks in the summer. The story uses a first-person limited point of view and is told from the perspective of four main characters. Three of them are 12 years old, while the fourth is in her early teens. A set of chapters is devoted to each character's version of events, and this alternating narrative technique remains consistent throughout the novel. Two other minor characters also have a single chapter devoted to their perspectives.

As the story begins, 12-year-old Jett Baranov, the spoiled son of a tech billionaire, is being transported to a wellness camp in rural Arkansas that bans the use of all tech devices. Despite his surly attitude, Jett finds himself involved in the care of a tiny lizard that another camper saved from boiling in a hot spring. While following the exploits of Jett and three other youngsters who work together to save one small lizard, the novel explores the themes of Leading Isolated Lives, The Value of Interdependence, and When to Break the Rules.

This guide refers to the Kindle edition of the novel.

Plot Summary

The story begins with Jett Baranov being transported to a wellness camp in rural Arkansas. As the son of a tech billionaire, Jett has been named Silicon Valley’s Number One Spoiled Brat for the outrageous stunts he pulls. He is being supervised by a company programmer named Matt. When the two arrive at The Oasis for Body and Mind, they meet an extremely tall and off-putting meditation director named Ivory. She asks them to turn over all the tech gadgets they carry. Jett is furious and does his best to get himself kicked out of the camp. However, the camp founder, Magnus Fellini, has great faith that Jett will come to enjoy his time at the Oasis.

Despite Jett’s indifference to all the other guests, he finds himself getting involved in the care of a tiny lizard that another campmate saved from boiling in a hot spring. He becomes a part of Team Lizard along with other campers interested in the illicit rescue project, such as allergy-prone Tyrell, camp booster Grace, and the enigmatic Brooklynne, who turns out to be Magnus’s daughter. The four youngsters engage in some risky behavior to conceal the reptile and find carnivorous food for it to eat in the all-vegetarian camp. Stunts involve “borrowing” a boat to travel to a nearby town, eating banned food like meat while there, and running a candy-smuggling operation to keep a blackmailer quiet.

In the nearby town of Hedge Apple, Jett and his friends stumble across an illegal alligator farm. They also realize that their pet lizard is a baby alligator who must have escaped from there. Jett’s attempts to alert the authorities and free the alligators put him in danger after he tries to blow up the reptile river gate using smuggled fireworks. When Jett is caught, Team Lizard comes to his rescue by breaking all the camp rules. Tyrell steals a golf cart, Brooklynne uses a banned cell phone to call the police, and Grace detonates the fireworks before rescuing Jett from his captors. The villain running the farm turns out to be the camp’s own Ivory, who has been hypnotizing guests into giving her large sums of money to finance her shady operation. At the end of the story, Jett declares that he wants a pet when he gets home and that he also wouldn’t mind coming back to the Oasis in the future if his friends were there too.