“The pleasures of the novel go far beyond the crackling, breathless plot and the satisfaction of watching the puzzle fall into place. The book is shot through with humor, both laugh-out-loud and subtle.” —New York Times Book Review
From National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner Laura Ruby comes an epic alternate history series about three kids who try to solve the greatest mystery of the modern world: a puzzle and treasure hunt laid into the very streets and buildings of New York City.
It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before.
Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.
Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York.
And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.
"An epic mission to solve one of the greatest mysteries of their time. I loved this book. It is full of twists and turns" (from the Brightly.com review, which named York: The Shadow Cipher one of the best books of 2017).
In this entertaining race through an alternate-history New York City, first in the York trilogy, several children attempt to unravel their city's greatest unsolved puzzle in order to save their historic apartment building from an unscrupulous real-estate tycoon. Twins Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz are determined to solve the clues left behind by the Morningstarrs, legendary architects and inventors who dazzled New York with fantastic technology and skyscrapers before vanishing. As the intrepid trio follows a chain of previously undiscovered hints, they're drawn deeper into the truth behind the so-called Old York Cipher. Printz Award winner Ruby (Bone Gap) conjures a compelling vision of a city rife with enigmas and secrets through third-person narration that highlights the key roles played by the friends and a young neighbor named Cricket. The details of Ruby's alternate New York fascinate this is a world that features familiar pop culture references (Legos, Nancy Drew, Marvel superheroes), which are subtly tweaked and accompanied by intriguing tech, such as the robotic caterpillars that keep the Underway (aka subway) clean. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for book two. Ages 8 12.
I can see why this is a Maine Student Book Award winner: intensifyingly mysterious, captivating, and with just the right amount of humor and mystery to make it feel real. The ending was the perfect touch: I love a good cliffhanger. Read in one sitting: Loved it!