York: The Shadow Cipher
By Laura Ruby
496 pages – ages 9+
Published by Walden Pond Press on May 16, 2017
Synopsis from Publisher- “It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before. Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.
Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York. And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.”
What I Thought- I have a confession to make – at first, I didn’t want to read this book. I think when I got the review request and read the summary, I thought, same old – same old… another 39 Clues want to be. Wow- was I wrong. Ruby knocks this one out of the park with excellent story-telling and an imaginative plot. I really enjoyed exploring the twists and turns of the novel and the differences between this world and our world. One thing I like is the fact that the Morningstarrs were so advanced for their time that no one was able to even come close to their proficiency and skill – so society was unable to replicate them, and progressed to a semblance of our modern day. All of the little details are so fun to read about, and you get invested in the awesome steampunk society and the idea of the Old York Cipher. Which leads to another point – the book includes information about ciphers and codes, and I found all of that enlightening to read about and also not just a re-tread of stories I already love. The book is told in chapters from each of the three children’s perspectives, with a few added bits from earlier days of New York. Each child has a distinct voice and personality, and it is a complete joy to see all three of them working and growing together. I definitely recommend this book, and I cannot wait to get my hands on book two! This one is getting added to my Erik’s Favs list!
I give this book five out of five bookworms!