Even Technophobes Can Join This Game

BookendsLynn: As Cindy knows, to her sorrow, I am far from being technologically adept. I admit this to encourage any of you who might feel a bit reluctant to jump into a book about a high-stakes technology competition among teen computer geniuses. I was certianly unsure about starting Genius: The Game (2016) by Leopoldo Gout, especially since it’s packed with detailed technical diagrams, schematics, coding, and mathematical doodles. Knowing my decided lack of technical expertise, I was nervous I’d miss much of what was going on. And I very well may have, but the galloping, suspense-filled plot and terrific characters completely hooked me, and if I did miss anything, that didn’t hurt my enjoyment one byte!

The story is narrated by three online best friends who call themselves the LODGE. Rex, a Mexican-American, Painted Wolf, a Chinese girl dedicated to exposing governmental corruption, and Tunde, a boy from a desperately poor Nigerian village, help, support, and encourage each other, even though they have never met in person. Then Kiran Biswas, the young CEO of one of the world’s most influential cybernetics firms, announces an international competition and invites 200 of the world’s brightest coders under 18—including those in the LODGE. Each of the three friends have dire reasons to win the Game, and at least one is keeping a desperate secret. As the Game begins, it is quickly evident that Biswas is involved in something much bigger and more dangerous.

Genius: the Game by Leopoldo GoutJust try putting this book down once you’ve started it! Although it’s tense and suspenseful with a breakneck pace and a plot that twists and turns, the characters reeled me in and made me care about their situations. Gout provides a depiction of real teamwork, cooperation, and friendship that is a welcome change from other cutthroat survival-game books I’ve read recently. Topics including engineering, coding, hacking, and physics will be a huge draw for teens interested in STEM subjects, but the compelling story will keep anyone turning the pages to reach the cliff-hanger ending.

I have to mention that the gorgeous cover and intriguing illustrations will move this book the minute you put it on the shelf. Bring on book two!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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