Key Take Away

  • Operation Do-Over is Gordon Korman’s latest clever, engaging middle grade novel, this time featuring time travel
  • The story follows Mason as a freak accident sends him back in time to redo parts of 7th grade and save his broken friendship
  • With humor and heart, Korman explores meaningful themes around friendship, family, growing up, and living with the consequences of choices
  • Fans will enjoy the creative premise, relatable characters, and thoughtful story full of Korman’s trademark humor
  • While some aspects require suspension of disbelief, overall this funny yet poignant time travel tale offers an entertaining, aspirational look at second chances


Operation Do-Over by Gordon Korman – A Hilarious Time Travel Adventure for Middle Graders


Operation Do-Over is a new middle grade novel by bestselling author Gordon Korman. Published in January 2023 by Balzer + Bray, this 320 page book follows 12-year-old Mason as he gets the chance to go back in time and redo parts of his life.

With Korman’s trademark humor and heart, this is a thought-provoking exploration of friendship, family, second chances, and the impact our actions can have on the future.

Key Features

  • Time Travel Premise: After a freak accident, 12-year-old Mason wakes up 5 years in the past with a chance to redo key events and avoid mistakes.
  • Humor: Korman is known for adding plenty of funny middle school moments and hijinks.
  • Heart: Themes of friendship, family, forgiveness, and growing up give the story warmth and depth.
  • Fast-Paced Plot: The time travel concept combined with middle school drama makes for a quick, engaging read.
  • Relatable Characters: Mason and his fellow middle schoolers deal with realistic, everyday issues like friendship drama, family changes, and finding your place.

Pros and Cons


  • Clever and engaging time travel premise
  • Korman’s trademark humor makes the story fun
  • Explores meaningful themes like friendship and second chances
  • Relatable middle school characters and drama
  • Fast-paced plot keeps the pages turning
  • Thought-provoking look at how choices shape the future


  • Some readers may find parts of the time travel implausible
  • The story resolves a bit quickly at the end
  • Could perpetuate stereotypes about nerds/academics vs jocks/sports
  • May not appeal to readers looking for more realism instead of sci-fi elements
  • Not as emotionally hard-hitting as some of Korman’s other books

Plot Summary

Mason and his best friend Ty have been inseparable since elementary school, bonding over their nerdy interests like science and time travel.

But in 7th grade, everything changes when new girl Ava arrives. Both Mason and Ty develop crushes, causing drama that destroys their friendship.

Years later, 17-year-old Mason gets into a car accident and wakes up in his 12-year-old body again, back before that fateful 7th grade year.

Seeing it as a second chance, Mason tries to redo events in hopes of saving his friendship with Ty and making better choices.

But he finds time travel is messy, and changing the past doesn’t always lead to a perfect future.

Review Highlights

Operation Do-Over has earned praised from reviewers:

  • “Korman brings smart plotting to an absorbing time travel narrative that examines the long-term impact of actions….Given [the] opportunity for a do-over, [Mason] seeks to right wrongs as well as try new things, leading to a climax in which both he and readers see what, if anything, has changed.” – Publishers Weekly
  • “Watching Mason learn from mistakes and explore new aspects of himself (especially with a 17-year-old consciousness trapped in a preteen body) is vicariously satisfying, and the sheer fascination of his predicament will keep readers turning pages, anxious to find out if he succeeds.” – Kirkus Reviews
  • “Korman’s signature blend of comedy, drama, and middle grade angst will leave readers with a warm fuzzy feeling.” – Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Who Would Enjoy This Book?

Operation Do-Over will appeal to:

  • Middle grade readers ages 8-12
  • Fans of Gordon Korman’s books like Restart, Ungifted, and The Unteachables
  • Readers who enjoy school stories and friendship themes
  • Sci-fi and time travel enthusiasts
  • Anyone looking for a thought-provoking, funny middle grade read

With its clever premise, humor, and heart, Operation Do-Over is poised to be another hit for Gordon Korman. It’s a entertaining yet meaningful story that middle grade readers will love.


Operation Do-Over delivers exactly what fans have come to expect from Gordon Korman – a creative premise, engaging characters, and a thoughtful, humorous story.

While some readers may find aspects of the time travel plot far-fetched, most will be easily swept up in Mason’s quest to redo the past.

Korman skillfully explores meaningful themes around friendship, family, growing up, and living with the consequences of our actions.

Mason’s second chance allows him and readers to see how even small choices can ripple into big changes in life. While the ending may resolve a bit simplistically, the journey getting there is entertaining and thought-provoking.

Overall, Operation Do-Over is another winner for Gordon Korman. With plenty of humor and heart, this clever time travel adventure offers a fun yet poignant look at making the most of second chances.

Middle grade readers will find Mason’s story both relatable and aspirational. Operation Do-Over proves why Korman remains a beloved author – he can take any wacky premise and turn it into a meaningful, unputdownable tale.