Are you a fan of online games? Do you do well on puzzles? Could you escape a room with only what you have on or around you? If so, Click Here to Start is the book is for you!
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It’s almost the end of summer vacation, and Ted Gerson had planned to spend the time playing online games, sometimes with his friend Caleb, sometimes on his own. So when his mother insists that twelve-year-old Ted go to the hospital and visit his barely remembered Great-Uncle Ted, the younger Ted balks. But moms have a way of getting their way, so off Ted goes.
Great-Uncle Ted turns out to be a funny, sarcastic old guy. Even though he can’t talk, the two Teds communicate through notes–well, notes on Great-Uncle Ted’s end, talking on the younger Ted’s. It turns out that Great-Uncle Ted is also a fan of games, and, like his great nephew, among his favorite are the Escape the Room type of games. Ted leaves, looking forward to spending more time with this newly rediscovered relative. Only Ted doesn’t have another chance. It turns out that their first visit is their only visit. Great-Uncle Ted dies only days later.
At the reading of the will, Ted discovers that Great-Uncle Ted has left him the entire contents of his apartment…and all it contains. In fact, there’s even a challenge. Since he’s so good at solving puzzles, (Great-Uncle Ted writes) if he searches hard, he will find a treasure…
Ted wonders what the treasure could be. Great-Uncle Ted was a soldier during WWII, could the treasure be jewels or gold that were found by the Japanese-American unit he served with? Or could it be something more recent, like computer games and consoles from the 70s? Even though his mother cautions him to not get too excited, Ted is sure that the search will be easy. After all, he’s beaten the highest level and won every Escape the Room challenge he’s ever played, and faster than any other kid he knows! Then he sees Great-Uncle Ted’s apartment.
The man seems to have kept everything he ever owned, and he didn’t throw anything away! Maneuvering through the piles of old newspapers and magazines, books, broken appliances and bags of stuff is exhausting. Luckily, Caleb agrees to help, and Ted’s father’s new boss has a daughter, Isabel, who also joins the boys…reluctantly. The first day, they do discover a couple treasures, but only clear a tiny fraction of the apartment.
But things get interesting on the second day. Someone has broken into the apartment and trashed it even more. Is someone else after the treasure? The parents aren’t sure about letting the kids continue, even though Ted, Caleb and Isabel are more psyched than ever to find a treasure among the trash. And then the strangest thing happens…when Ted is trying to wind down after a long day of cleaning, he goes to his favorite game site…only to find something new called The Game of Ted. When he clicks on the link, it opens a game where the room looks exactly like Great-Uncle Ted’s apartment, complete with all the same junk in the same places. What is going on..?
Can Ted, Caleb and Isabel find the treasure? Who else is looking for it? Are they in danger? Who is behind The Game of Ted, and are they helping or hindering the search? Only by finding the treasure will the kids find out the answers.
The audio for Click Here to Start is very enjoyable. Greg Watanabe does an excellent job of making each character’s voice unique. He sounds like a twelve year old who is engrossed in solving a mystery. I enjoyed the pacing; the action parts kept me on the edge of my seat.
Click Here to Start is Denis Markell’s first middle-grade novel, and it was a fun and fast read. He definitely knows the ins and outs of gaming. I’m looking forward to more from this author. Apparently, he has a book coming out in July 2018 called The Game Masters of Garden Place. The brief description on his web site makes it sound like another fun mystery involving online games and a group of smart kids. I know I will be reading it!
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So there you have it…Click Here to Start is a solid mystery, read by a talented narrator. Fans of the Mr Lemoncello’s Library stories by Chris Grabenstein will enjoy this one too! The book is probably best for readers in fifth through seventh grades, but the audio book could be accessible for listeners as young as eight or nine. If you like trying to solve mysteries or computer puzzles, you will enjoy this book. Just pick it up and find out!
Read-alikes: Capture the Flag by Kate Messner, Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet, The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein
Listen-alikes: The Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Bertram, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.
Come to the Library and find this book for your next car trip or free reading. As always, if you need suggestions for a book to read or to listen to, ask one of our librarians. We’re always happy to help you find the best book for you!