The characters are all a little prickly, which made it a bit hard to connect to them, but this is not unusual with bright middle school students. There are characters like Epica, who wears a school blazer even though there isn't a school uniform, and Toothpick, who is so concerned about the GIFT test that he memorizes the back of three cereal boxes in case the test included pop culture. While the characters are all a bit misfit, they work well together and support each other.
There are a lot of books where students go missing, and the focus of these books is usually the sadness the remaining characters feel. This turns the tables and involves the students directly in the efforts to locate the missing girl. Of course, it doesn't hurt that their school is a bit odd, and has Code Red Protocols and holograms at assemblies.
Readers who enjoy drones, armored, hybridized tardigrades, and evil billionaires with diabolical intentions will want to pick up this series (The Interplanetary Expedition of Mars Patel comes out in October of 2021) as well as listen to the podcast.