Remember how you could completely see yourself in the world of Hogwarts? That’s how it is in this book with a sci-fi version of New York City. I was only fifty pages in when I had that sinking feeling. The next book won’t be released for a year… I tried to read slowly in the same way that I try not to drink coffee too fast in the morning. In other words, it was over before I knew it.
A bit like a steampunk National Treasure this story is labeled middle grade, but anyone who loves a cipher will enjoy themselves. Tess and Theo are twins in the seventh grade. They are hilariously normal. Theo wears a shirt that says “Schrodinger’s cat is dead” on the front and then a zombie cat on the back with the line, “Schrodinger’s cat is ALIIIIIIVE.” There will be a movie version of this book and I will be buying that shirt.
Anyway, here’s the gist things. Back to Tess and Theo Biederman and friend, Jaime Cruz, who live in a Morningstarr building in New York City. In this version of York, the famous Morningstarr twins started inventing and building a fantastical array of dwellings, transportation, and life-like machines in the late 18th century, and the present-day result is a steampunk-like mash-up of technological wonder. Then, they vanished, leaving behind a trail of clues to inherit their secrets. Real estate magnate Darrell Slant is planning to evict all residents of their building unless they solve the cipher first.
The best parts? The parents are alive, the kids have a sense of social justice, the city atmosphere, a mc with anxiety, and most of all its a smart book. The characters are smart and expect the readers to be as well. One million thumbs up.
York: The Shadow Cipher By Laura Ruby is available now (check out the deckle edge edition!)