Cryptogram Chaos by Linda Covella
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (332 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
The game that’s every kid’s virtual dream becomes a real nightmare when an evil avatar takes control.
What if you were 8, or 11, or 14,and you could race cars at 150 mph, bungee jump,fly, eat all the ice cream and candy you wanted, or become powerful avatars such as Robobug, Kulshedra the dragon, and Altai, the gryphon avatar. All this and more is possible in the ultimate virtual reality game The Cryptogram Connection created by 14-year-old computer whiz Cody Reynolds and his two classmates, Nicole Nash and Kerry McCorkle. To advance to different levels in the game, players must solve cryptograms, or secret codes. (Readers also get to solve the cryptograms.)
They create their game to be used with the latest VR technology developed by local game manufacturer NuVision Games–a headset with biosensors that transmit signals to the brain, fooling it into tasting, hearing, feeling, seeing, and smelling what was programmed into the game. The games are as close to reality as reality itself.
The game becomes every kids’ virtual dream, and Cody, Nicole, and Kerry, besides becoming national celebrities, make more money than they ever imagined.
But The Cryptogram Connection turns into “cryptogram chaos” when an evil presence inhabits Zazar, the laser avatar and the most powerful, and takes control of the game. It’s up to the three partners to enter the game and fight Zazar to save the gamers from virtual–and real–disaster.
Sometimes virtual reality can be more dangerous than anything you’d find in the real world.
Definitely give the puzzles in this tale a try. They were extremely easy in the beginning, but they slowly grew more difficult over time. I had a good time trying to figure all of them out before moving onto the next scene. It made me feel like I was actually playing the game that the main characters had created. The puzzles were a nice addition to the plot because of this.
This book got off to a slow start. The narrator spent a great deal of time setting up the main conflict and explaining how all of the characters knew each other. While I understand why many of these details were necessary, it was hard for me to become interested the plot at first because of how long it took for anything to happen. It would have been really helpful to have some kind of small conflict or misunderstanding in the beginning to catch my attention before the pacing sped up.
The game that Cody and his friends developed sounded like so much fun. I liked how detailed the descriptions of it were, especially when it came to what it felt like to play it for the first time. The first level was by far my favorite one because you could use all five senses to experience it. I’ve never heard of a game like that before, but it sure sounded interesting!
Cryptogram Chaos should be read by video game enthusiasts of all ages.