Ungifted by Gordon Korman Review

by Daniel Johnston on February 20, 2014 · 6 comments

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My favorite childhood author was Gordon Korman. So it was interesting to read one of his most recent books Ungifted, now that I’ve passed the phase of passionate attachment towards his books. And I must admit I liked it.


Ungifted is about a troublemaking 7th grader named Donovan Curtis. He’s the type of kid who does things like rolling expensive bronze globe’s through glass doors. In fact, it’s that very action that gets him in trouble with the Superintendent of Schools when it accidentally wipes down a multi-million dollar statue in the middle of a basketball game, wiping out use of the gym totally and costing the district an exorbitant amount of money.

The Superintendent is furious and intends to give him serious consequences; something Donovan and his family can’t afford right now, with his sister pregnant and her husband in a dangerous war overseas. But somehow it gets mixed up, and instead of his name being put down for big trouble, it gets put on the list of new gifted students.

This is great: Donovan avoids trouble and gets to go to a school which has many advantages over his own, such as being kept in much better shape, encouraging students to have laptops and cellphones during school, and soft talks instead of getting in trouble. One problem: Donovan is ungifted.

The book is about Donovan’s adventures towards the class, which are quite entertaining. It is told in the first person, and each chapter switches the narrator, whether it be Donovan, his teachers, classmates, or sister. This is a good format for a book like this, and can’t help but remind me of No More Dead Dogs, although this book is not quite as funny.

Although Donovan does not quite fit in at first, he soon forms a close bond with many of the interesting characters in his school, including a kid with a 200+ IQ who wants to be in a normal school (Noah Youkilis) and a genius who takes a liking towards towards Donovan because he’s “normal” (Chloe Garfinkle). Some of his escapades include introducing Noah to YouTube and becoming star robotics driver for the Robotics Team, a fact which makes everyone greatly attached to him and wishing greatly for him not to be in trouble.

But he becomes even more valuable when he convinces his pregnant sister to teach a class on Human Growth and Development (saving everyone from summer school) by letting them touch and hear her stomach, talk about her experiences, do many tests on her, go to the doctor with her, and even be waiting outside during her giving birth.

You can’t please everyone, though, and a serious girl named Abigail Lee hates Donovan. She doesn’t think he belongs in the gifted program, nor do most other people. His homeroom teacher advises him to take a retest to get into the gifted program. He has to work hard just to get passable grades in his classes. Yet somehow he manages to pass the test. Or does someone else help him? Will the Superintendent eventually catch up to him? What will happen to the robotics team? What will his punishment be, and what will happen to his family?


The book is 280 pages long, but written in a very easy style and easy to blow through. It took me about a day and a half to read it. Although I did like it, it’s a little below my age grade at this point, but it was still enjoyable. I recently read another one of his books, and that seemed a little more mature. This book would probably be good for people 4th to 7th grade.

The book is funny, but not quite as funny as we’ve come to except from Korman. It’s not really an action/adventure book, but much of it is still exciting and the narrative flows well. There is a lot of character development, and the book is really centered around an impulsive kid, which can be of intrigue.

I liked reading about some of the gifted students, and I’d like more into that subject, although I understand why he didn’t in this book. For some reason I like Korman’s modeling of those students, to the extent I feel he did it better than in the famous book Millicent Minn: Girl Genius.

I wonder if a side effect of the book is to make people feel better about not being gifted, as well as be somewhat in awe towards the main character of the book. Some parents may be concerned it would have a negative impact towards their kids, but I don’t think so. The main character is a good kid and likable, too; it’s not like he’s a jerk-he just gets into trouble sometimes.

Towards adults and older kids, I wouldn’t recommend the book, but for tweens and a little younger it will be a good read. This is more of the style of the old Gordon Korman, but puts some of the past decade or so into it as well.

The main things I like about the book is the storytelling, plot, and characters. It could be a little more exciting, and I’d like for it to have a bit more humor, but overall it’s another good book worth reading.

Thank you for reading this review and if you’d like to purchase the book you can do so through this link. You can also like my Facebook Page or enter your email below to get more book reviews.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia September 22, 2014 at 8:19 AM

Great Summary! I only read half of the book and then I went off and dozed. I had a report to write and this did the trick!


Zoe Fisher February 16, 2015 at 2:45 PM

What is the theme and what is the developed theme of this book. I found the book ungifted to be a very exciting and wonderful book I believe that there should be a second book and a series.


Isabella July 5, 2015 at 4:47 PM

the book ungifted was okay the first chapter I really didn’t like because it started off humorous a little but then it went on why and what happen. I have nothing against humor but the first page of the book I really didn’t like how it started off but overall I liked the book.


expand dong August 15, 2016 at 12:23 PM

its great


expand dong August 15, 2016 at 12:24 PM

what a great book


Andrew July 22, 2017 at 2:34 PM

Awesome book!


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