Thursday, April 23, 2015

Secret Coders - a new series by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

This new series by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes is a great introductory mash-up of mystery and math. I could see this book being a hit in a gifted and talented math class or for any aspiring math geek. The book seems designed to appeal to both boys and girls. The main character is Hopper, a girl reluctantly entering a new school. Her new found friend is Eni, a whiz at mathematics, computer coding, and basketball. What a team! Secret Coders ends on a cliffhanger and lets the reader know that the mystery continues in the soon to come Secret Coders: Paths & Portals. So it seems there will be more mystery and decoding in store for this series. Hopper and Eni solve some of the mystery only to uncover deeper secrets. The book even begins with a mystery in the chapter numbers which are signified by very odd birds with multiple eyes, some open and some closed; a binary intrigue. Robots, strange birds, along with crabby and secretive school personnel abound at Hopper’s new school Stately Academy. The book pauses several times to give the reader an opportunity to solve the puzzles while Hopper and Eni are working too. This is a very different style from Yang’s previous graphic novels, but once again there is an almost magical mysterious element, although for a younger reader. This series looks like a fun read for any child who loves math puzzles and secret codes, or who is curious about how a computer really works. I could see it being a great way to liven up a math class beyond problem drills. The main characters, Hopper and Eni, are in seventh grade but I think math whizzes from fourth grade up through possibly middle school or junior high would enjoy the new Secret Coders series. It actually seems like it would appeal more to the younger end of that range. One element I enjoyed at the end was Gene Luen Yang’s short explanation of his introduction to computers and coding as a fifth grader. This personal note on the inspiration and idea for the book added authenticity and interest for an adult reader. The e-book I read was provided by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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