Cover image for Brainboy and the Deathmaster
Brainboy and the Deathmaster
Seidler, Tor.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Laura Geringer Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
311 pages ; 22 cm
When Darryl, a twelve-year-old orphan, is adopted by a technology genius, he finds himself the star of his very own life-threatening video game.
Reading Level:
Ages 8 up.

770 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.9 9.0 72760.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.2 14 Quiz: 34220 Guided reading level: NR.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Darryl Kirby is an orphan. He is also a whiz at computer games -- especially those conceived by Keith Masterly, the greatest software guru of all time. But when Darryl plays a new prototype of his favorite game, StarMaster, strange things begin to happen. After he finds his way through a tortuous maze and answers questions that could stump a scientist, a mysterious message -- "WANT TO PLAY?" -- invites him into a game in which the stakes are higher than they first appear -- a game that eventually lands him in a luxurious laboratory where Masterly has enlisted a brain trust of children for a secret purpose of his own. Befriended by Nina, who suspects Masterly's motives, Darryl slowly uncovers a sinister plan and finds himself the star in his own real-life computer game. But will he and Nina be able to stop Masterly and escape before it is too late? Brainboy and the Deathmaster is a fast-paced, high-tech mystery-adventure by National Book Award finalist Tor Seidler, author of the modern-day classic Mean Margaret.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-7. Twelve-year-old Darryl Kirby lost his entire family in a fire. His subsequent placement in the Masterly Children's Shelter introduces him to Boris and BJ and to StarMaster 3, a video game more intricate than any he's ever encountered. The first couple of chapters are a bit of a snooze for the reader not heavily into PlayStation culture, but Brainboy quickly morphs into an absorbing thriller about a group of brainy orphans recruited by software guru Keith Masterly to further his sinister plans. Darryl uncovers the purpose for Masterly's luxury think tank and his ultimate plan for the orphans' demise. From there, the story flows smoothly between the captive team's escape plan and the savvy detective work of the kids on the outside, who are left wondering about the fate of their friends. As rich in texture as the novels of Avi and Gail Carson Levine, Brainboy deftly bridges the gap between the young-adult thriller of a past generation and the high-tech adventures of this one. --Terry Glover Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Seidler's (Mean Margaret) diverting book, 12-year-old orphan Darryl Kirby, a video game prodigy, discovers a sprawling new online game at the shelter where he is dumped. In a matter of days, the game's inventor, Keith Masterly (an eccentric billionaire, himself once a boy genius, with a career almost parallel to that of Bill Gates), shows up to adopt Darryl, then whisks him away to Masterly's high-tech lab/fortress, Paradise. There, Darryl and several other hand-picked young geniuses are put to work on Masterly's secret project: eternal life through DNA manipulation. The children are each given a daily "vitamin," which stifles their memories of who they are and where they came from-until Darryl skips the pills and discovers Masterly's entire plan, which ultimately involves disposing of the young researchers. The set-up is excellent, but a few structural flaws mar the compelling story: the ending feels rushed; Darryl's discovery of the secret of immortality after just a few days in the lab seems unlikely given this fantasy's narrative logic; and readers receive no explanation for Masterly's shift from child genius to evil madman. Still, the language, invariably crisp and bright, makes for a quick read. As with Seidler's first book, The Dulcimer Boy, the core message-children do stand a chance against the cruelties of the world-always bears repeating. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-A fast-paced, science-fiction adventure. Darryl recently lost his entire family in a horrible fire, and now resides at an orphanage funded by Keith Masterly, founder of the world's largest computer empire. After Darryl plays exceptionally well on the version of "Stargate" found on the laptop in his room, he's unexpectedly adopted and whisked away by Masterly himself. At first, the boy is thrilled to be a part of Paradise Lab, where there are lots of other smart kids like him, all helping Masterly conduct science experiments aimed at "conquering time." But Darryl and his friend Nina come to realize that Masterly's ultimate goals are deadly, and it's up to them to rescue everyone from a madman's evil grip. Though the plot, and especially the ending, is far-fetched, Seidler has created empathetic characters and writes at a level that is accessible even to readers not usually drawn to this genre. Despite the high-tech backdrop, it is Darryl's emotional journey that resonates and makes this novel a worthwhile purchase.-Ronni Krasnow, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.