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Review: The Shadow Cipher - Laura Ruby

Genre: Middlegrade Published: Walden Pond Press, march 2017 My rating: 4.5 stars

I wish this book would have been around when I was middlegrade age. This is exactly the kind of book I would have loved at that time. This series is a steampunky fantasy story about three kids who embark on a journey through an alternate version of New York, to decipher a century-old puzzle, left by the architects of the city.

Not only does this sound like a very interesting premise, the execution, in my opinion, is pretty great. The characters are exactly the kind that I would have loved at that age: they are smart, curious and a little nerdy. The writing is full of sass, funny and engaging, and even thought this book is almost 500 pages long, you will fly through it.

The main appeal of this book to me was how smart it was. This is reflected in the characters who make being scientificly interested and intelligent look cool. They are the kind of kids nerdy-eleven-year-old me would have love to relate to. Laura Ruby also does not underestimate the intelligence of her reading. Middlegrade can sometimes seem a little oversimplified, as authors are afraid to go over their readers head. Laura Ruby does not shy away from complexity, which I think many smart middlegraders will absolutely appreciate.

Full disclosure: reading this as an adult, it wasn’t on the same level as some other 4 star books are. There were some moments where I didn’t enjoy myself. However, I try to judge books for what they are within their genre. As far as that’s concerned: great book. I would definitely recommend this to any middlegrade reader who likes to be challenged, and even to YA or adult readers who just crave a fun and inventive adventure with a bunch of sassy 12-year old.


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