Monday, August 7, 2017

MMGM: The Unbreakable Code

This is a book I got from the library, but I can’t remember what inspired me to get it. I think it was probably the fun title and the promise of a mystery. But little did I know that this book had some parallels with a book I’m currently revising. So win, win for me. A book to enjoy, and to learn from!

If you like mysteries about codes with historical themes and treasure hunts, you’re in luck!

Here’s the synopsis (from Amazon):

A New York Times-Bestseller!

Could books hidden through Book Scavenger be linked to an arsonist's web of destruction? Find out in Book 2 of Jennifer Chambliss' The Book Scavenger series.

Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there’s the coded note he drops at a book event. Then they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What’s most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers a fire.

As the sleuthing friends dig deeper, they discover Mr. Quisling has been hunting a legendary historical puzzle: the Unbreakable Code. This new mystery is irresistible, but Emily and James can’t ignore the signs that Mr. Quisling might be the arsonist. The clock is ticking as the fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime.

This title has Common Core connections.

What I loved about Unbreakable Code:

1.  The mystery was tied to history: I loved how the mystery didn’t happen in a vacuum but was based on real, historical events. This historical background—Angel Island, the San Fransisco Gold Rush, and Mark Twain—gave the book a lot of depth.

2.  A boy-girl friendship where they are just friends: I love that there was no hint of romance between James and Emily. It was nice to see them drawn together by common interests—a shared love of reading and clues.

3.  Codes! I recommended this to my son, who loved the Winston Breen series. Kids who love to solve the codes along with the main characters will love this.

4. A fast-paced, intricate plot: As plotting is something I struggle with, I’m going to be studying this one. I found the chapters by the anonymous villain quite brilliant. And I loved how all the various elements in this book came together for a very satisfying climax—like who knew a dance committee could be important?

5. Interesting and reliable adults: The adults usually get a bad rap in kidlit, but I loved how most of the adult characters were honorable people who seemed to really get these kids (except for the antagonist, of course).

Caveat: While I loved a lot about this book, I have a few tiny nitpicks. There were some mixed metaphors that were a bit jarring. And the entire cast of characters, some of whom had similar names, was often hard to keep track of.

But, all in all, a fun read. Perfect for summer when you want to escape and use your brain! By the way, this is the sequel to the BOOK SCAVENGER, which I haven’t read yet. So, you don’t have to read the first in the series to enjoy the sequel.

This book has been compared to the WESTING GAME and MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY, both of which are apt comparisons. Puzzles and smart kids—what a great combination!

Have you read any interesting mysteries with codes lately?



  1. Oh good! I just bought these for my son's upcoming birthday (Shhhh...don't tell.) I haven't actually read them, but I had a good feeling. Now I can't wait! Thanks.

  2. I really enjoyed THE BOOK SCAVENGER but haven't had the chance to read the sequel. Your review put this new one on the top of my TBR pile.

  3. I love books where the love is completely platonic. I find that friendships are sort of underappreciated in some (most) books theses days. Happy to hear that there are reliable adults!

  4. I love books where the love is completely platonic. I find that friendships are sort of underappreciated in some (most) books theses days. Happy to hear that there are reliable adults!

  5. This sounds really fun! I mean, history and codes? Why not? lol I love that you can read either book first, and still enjoy, too. Thanks for the recommend, and have a great August!

  6. I have Book Scavenger, but I still haven't read it. I definitely will, though, since both it and its sequel sound really enjoyable. Thanks so much for the review!