The Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Read by Jessica Almasy
Summary 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.
So first I must confess that I really like the audiobook cover much better than the book’s. It’s very cool looking even if it doesn’t say much about the story. My second confession is that I only read this because it is one of the nominees for my state’s Sasquatch Award. This is an annual award where a committee of librarians choose 12 titles that kids then vote on. Most states have a similar award, and it is a way for kids to read something that maybe isn’t their usual kind of book. My school district promotes this award and I usually read the books so I can talk them up to my students. The titles are usually a couple of years old, so sometimes I get a chance to read something I missed when it came out and sometimes I find books that I really like which is the case with this one.
This is a great book! It is interesting, fast paced, has great characters that are both kids and adults, has an interesting game as part of the plot and it is set in San Francisco one of my favorite cities.
Both Emily and James are interesting and smart children. They both love puzzles and games and they love books. I felt a little sorry for Emily because of her constant moving. I fact I didn’t like her parents very much at first because of their nomadic lifestyle that they forced on their kids. But by the end of the book I decided that they were ok and maybe both Emily and her brother were better for their experiences. Emily had a good solid relationship with her parents and her brother Matthew. Although she and Matthew fought a few times through out the book, they always made up and you could tell that they really liked each other. James is an only child but has a close extended family. Emily and James become friends a little too quickly, but I liked that about James that he was so friendly towards Emily. James is also a little quirky in a nice way. I also really liked the character Hollister, who is the owner of the local book store. He always had some good wisdom to impart to the kids and was very helpful to them as well.
The plot of the story is good with a lot of twists and turns especially concerning the book they find that they think is the next big game from Garrison Griswold. Lots of clues and ciphers to solve that it would have been nice to have a print version on hand to look at while I was listening to it. The book scavenger game sounded very cool and something that I would have been into as a kid. It is similar to geocaching but with books. And it does appear that the author and publisher have set up a similar website, although not as extensive as the one described in the book.
Jessica Almasy does an excellent job with the narration. I would recommend the audio, but have a copy of the book so you can help solve the clues and ciphers along with Emily and James.
A very enjoyable book with great characters. It is a series, although there are currently one two books published, but hopefully with more to come.