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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Prodigious Savant is a thriller written by J.J. White. Gavin Weaver was counting on getting an athletic scholarship to a good college the following year, but everything changed due to a freak accident. He had met up with his friend Steve, who was shooting at a skunk near a construction shed. When the shed began to smoke, Gavin got down on the ground just in time before the stockpiled boxes of explosives being stored within were detonated by the heat. While he was protected by the wave of dirt in which the explosion buried him, his head was smashed against a boulder, requiring emergency surgery that left the 17-year-old in a coma for over a month. When Gavin woke up, he was profoundly changed. The athlete who never cared much for studying was a math prodigy who devoured books at an alarming rate.
J.J. White's thriller, Prodigious Savant, is an exciting and well-written story set in Vermont in the early 1960s. White faithfully recreates the culture and lifestyles of that era, including the Cold War, the aftermath of the Second World War, and the enthusiasm of Americans for their young Irish president. I enjoyed seeing Gavin begin to come out of his coma and explore his newly acquired abilities in those first heady months before the headaches begin again, but the real high points of Prodigious Savant were the chess tournaments and Gavin's progress from the high school chess club to matches with Fischer and Spassky. Prodigious Savant is well-written and fast-paced, and is recommended for fans of the thriller genre.