Author: Denis Markell
Similar books: The Lost Cipher by Michael Oechsle
Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
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Summary(provided by publisher): Young fans of Ernie Cline's Ready Player One will love this classic video game inspired mystery filled with elements of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
What if playing video games was prepping you to solve an incredible real-world puzzle and locate a priceless treasure?
Twelve-year-old Ted Gerson has spent most of his summer playing video games. So when his great-uncle dies and bequeaths him the all so-called treasure in his overstuffed junk shop of an apartment, Ted explores it like it's another level to beat. And to his shock, he finds that eccentric Great-Uncle Ted actually has set the place up like a real-life escape-the-room game!
Using his specially honed skills, Ted sets off to win the greatest game he's ever played, with help from his friends Caleb and Isabel. Together they discover that Uncle Ted's “treasure” might be exactly that—real gold and jewels found by a Japanese American unit that served in World War II. With each puzzle Ted and his friends solve, they get closer to unraveling the mystery—but someone dangerous is hot on their heels, and he's not about to let them get away with the fortune.
My opinion: This novel is a great variation on a standard puzzle novel. It incorporates video games, history, literature, and science. The gaming elements are necessary for the plot to be believable. Otherwise, these kids finding obscure clues in strange places would have been a real stretch. The plot already had believably issues. It is a very elaborate puzzle requiring a lot of set up in a number of places, nearly impossible for and elderly and ailing man to accomplish. And for all of these complex clues in place for who knows how long, to go undisturbed, even one in a hospital room. There were a number of questions that remained unanswered at the end of the novel, including the questions I found most compelling. So, it's not a perfect novel. I found it a bit frustrating at times. But if you're a fan of puzzles and books that celebrate different kinds of intelligence this is a good choice.
Advanced reader copy provided by NetGalley.