Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Challenges: May 2015 Clean Sweep ARC Challenge | NetGalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge
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Blurb from goodreads:
A hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins . . . .
Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold's attackers make them their next target.
Growing up, I loved reading mysteries such as The Three Investigators, The Hardy Boys, and The Happy Hollisters. They were full of tweens and teens who sometimes stumbled upon, sometimes sought out mysteries and set about solving them. Emily, our main protagonist, does both in "Book Scavenger". Oh, and there's a real Book Scavenger site! Yes, the author or publisher, someone connected to the book, set up a real site that seems to work the way it does in the book. Man, where was this when I was growing up?
The premise of the book plus the cover which is reminiscent of books I read growing up lured me in. I had to read it. "Book Scavenger" did not disappoint. It's a delightful romp that also has serious moments. Bertman gives us adolescent pain, friendship in its highs and lows, puzzle solving, bibliophilia, and the joy of discovery. Emily's family moves approximately once a year in their quest to live in all 50 states of the US. At first, Emily enjoyed the moving but lately she's been craving stability, a home base, and the ability to form lasting friendships. The moves to San Frisco excites her as it's the home of the Book Scavenger game and its founder. She hopes that she'll be able to participate in a game before her family moves again.
Emily gets her wish and then some. She and a new friend, James, get caught up in a game that Griswold set up before he was injured. Other people are after the book and not just game players. There are double crosses, challenges big and small, and a love of books that shines through in Bertman's writing. There are parallels between Emily's life and Griswold's and along the way Emily learns that both staying in one place and moving on have their disadvantages, it's how you handle them and your attitude that makes the difference.
"Book Scavenger" can be enjoyed as a romp and adventure or you can go deeper and puzzle out the messages on friendship, family, and forgiveness. Although I failed at deciphering any of the codes in the book, I enjoyed reading about Emily and James' efforts at cracking them and solving the various mysteries they encounter. Both kids are clever, smart, and resourceful. Though they have much in common, their family lives are vastly different and Bertman subtly plays the two off of each other, reinforcing the messages of family, adventure, and stability.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Book Scavenger". There were some unlikely coincidences and convenient events but overall the story was tightly written, fast-paced, and thoroughly engaging.