Book Scavenger, Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Friday, December 14, 2018

Twelve-year-old Emily's family does not exactly lead a conventional home life. Her parents, blessed (or cursed) with wanderlust, are trying to live in each of the 50 states. For Emily and her brother, this
means every few months they are dragged to a new city, a new neighborhood, and a new school. Emily doesn't really mind too much, though she's learned the hard way it's easier to leave a place if you don't put down any roots there-which for a 12-year-old means friends. Emily finds her books to be better company anyway.

One thing her parents' quest to live in all 50 states is good for is the game Book Scavenger. Created by Emily's idol Garrison Griswold, the game entails hiding books in public locations and then posting clues to their whereabouts online. Other players read the clues, puzzle out the locations, and retrieve the book. Every book you find earns you points towards the ultimate goal of becoming a Book Scavenger master. And now, just when Griswold is getting ready to release a new puzzle game, Emily's parents are moving them to the center of the Book Scavenger universe, Griswold's hometown of San Fransisco.

Emily's excitement is dampened, however, when Griswold is attacked. When she and her new friend James find Griswold's book of clues, they know they have to keep it a secret if they want to win the game. But they aren't the only ones looking for it. Emily and James have to race against time to discover the secret and save Mr. Griswold before it's too late.

Basically, I was Emily as a kid, and if the internet had existed and this game had been real I would have been ALL OVER IT. For sure I would have needed to get the most points. I'm not competitive about most things, but reading challenges or games of intellect, those get my competitive juices flowing. Plus, I love the idea of releasing books out into the world for other readers to find. When I read a book I love, it makes me happy to share it with other people.

The story is a good blend of tween friendship drama and exciting quest story. Emily and James are perfectly suited to each other as friends, and Emily's growing angst about her family's unusual way of life is both completely understandable and well-handled. Bertman has created a little gem of a series, one that avid readers will relate to, and fans of action and excitement will also enjoy. I look forward to checking out the other books in the series.

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