School Library Journal Gr 3–6—Ginger Crump lives in Flinkwater, IA. That may sound dull and boring, except for the fact that a screen saver or "screenie" is turning people into drooling zombies. Most people in town work for ACPOD, a Silicon Valley-like technology company. This means that most residents are of high intelligence. Ginger quickly figures out how to avoid getting "bonked" by the hidden code. She and her crush, Billy George, have to solve the problem while dodging the authorities who think they are terrorists. Hautman creates fun, smart characters with brilliant minds. Just when they think they have solved the "bonking" problem, a talking dog enters the scene, which takes the story in another hilarious direction, and readers meet even more colorful characters. While all of this is going on, Ginger is also concerned with the simple things such as, when will she finally get to kiss someone? Hautman includes a guide at the back of the book explaining which scientific details mentioned in the chapters are real or science fiction. Is the poop-net real? Readers will likely want to find out. VERDICT Middle grade fans of Carl Hiassen's mysteries will enjoy Hautman's inventive characters and plot.—Kris Hickey, Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews Hautman's latest features wacky adventures in a near-future small town packed with engineers. Flinkwater, Iowa, is a small town where most residents—like narrator Ginger's parents—work in some capacity for a tech company that makes robots. Smart but smarter-mouthed, sarcastic, and high-spirited Ginger recounts five loosely connected episodes in an engagingly conversational tone. First, Flinkwater residents are "bonking" themselves into catatonia while using their tablets and computers. As the naturally curious engineers all bonk themselves in checking it out, Ginger and boy genius Billy must solve the mystery and cure the town. The second story involves smuggling an escaped lab animal to safety, a sad-looking dog with a collar that broadcasts his thoughts as speech. The third finds Ginger's hilariously awkward quest for a first kiss juxtaposed against a light nanotechnology subplot. The fourth and fifth build directly upon each other: in these, the Department of Homeland Security—annoying but till this point harmless and on the scene since bonking emerged as a security threat in the first episode—takes a turn as villain in a convoluted evil scheme; it has high stakes and delightful twists, but it unravels too easily. The book ends with a "where are they now"-style afterword and a parsing of the book's science from its fantasy elements. Fast, funny episodes featuring creative takes on close-to-reality science. (Science fiction. 8-14)
Publishers Weekly Thirteen-year-old Ginger Crump lives in the town of Flinkwater, Iowa, along with a concentration of “Very Smart, Very Geeky people”: Flinkwater is the headquarters of an Apple-esque tech company, ACPOD. Most of the town’s residents, including Ginger’s parents, work for ACPOD, which has several dark secrets that Ginger and her friends unintentionally uncover. Hautman’s story unfolds in five sections, starting when a computer screen saver puts townsfolk into a coma-like state that Ginger calls “getting bonked.” Ginger’s friend and crush, super-genius Billy, figures out how to awaken people from the trance, and the pair’s work continues in episodes involving talking animals, the mysterious Flinkwater Sasquatch, Ginger’s hopes for a first kiss, and a Homeland Security agent with shady motives. Hautman (Eden West) weaves the plot threads together cleverly, but it’s Ginger’s dry humor (“A plague of mysterious comas is one thing. And having my dad bonked was even scarier. But losing net access was like taking away the air”), an equally colorful supporting cast, and the lore (and tech) of Flinkwater that make the story so enjoyable.