"Cryptogram Chaos: A Virtual Reality Adventure" by Linda Covella is a middle grade contemporary adventure and fantasy story that features a trio of ninth graders who learn to see beyond the cliques that have formed and work together.
Cody Reynolds is a computer whiz but not part of the ‘in’ crowd, which makes it all the more surprising when the very popular Nicole and her sidekick Kerry approach him about an idea for a very different type of game. Their creative idea has wonderful possibilities, but not everyone wants them to succeed, and Cody discovers that there are pitfalls he never considered and the game may end up being the worst idea he’s ever come up with.
This is such a fun story that combines creativity, intellectual stimulation, and a mystery. The concept of a virtual reality game that allows one to experience both thrilling adventures on land, sea, and in the air plus a chance to interact with, and as, various mythical creatures, sounds like something that definitely would enthrall kids and kids at heart everywhere. I like the gradual evolution of the relationship between Cody and the other kids as it seemed an accurate representation of the way each side can view the other one negatively only to discover their perceptions are wrong. The puzzles that have to be solved in order to access the next level in the game start with basic challenges and escalate, and provided a nice depth to the story, and the research and information at the end explained things nicely and gave intriguing glimpses of developments in the field of virtual reality. I am tempted to continue playing with the PigPen/Rosicrucian version of the puzzles, lol, and a little curious to know how one knows to leave out the ‘J’ in the Figure Cipher, but fascinated by all of the cryptograms. What a great book for stimulating a love of learning in a fun way!
*Winner of the Gold Medal from Literary Classics for Teen Fiction!The game that's every kid's virtual dream becomes a real nightmare when an evil avatar takes control. What if you were 8, or 11, or 14,and you could race cars at 150 mph, bungee jump,fly, eat all the ice cream and candy you wanted, or become powerful avatars such as Robobug, Kulshedra the dragon, and Altai, the gryphon avatar. All this and more is possible in the ultimate virtual reality game The Cryptogram Connection created by 14-year-old computer whiz Cody Reynolds and his two classmates, Nicole Nash and Kerry McCorkle. To advance to different levels in the game, players must solve cryptograms, or secret codes. (Readers also get to solve the cryptograms.)
They create their game to be used with the latest VR technology developed by local game manufacturer NuVision Games--a headset with biosensors that transmit signals to the brain, fooling it into tasting, hearing, feeling, seeing, and smelling what was programmed into the game. The games are as close to reality as reality itself.
The game becomes every kids' virtual dream, and Cody, Nicole, and Kerry, besides becoming national celebrities, make more money than they ever imagined.
But The Cryptogram Connection turns into "cryptogram chaos" when an evil presence inhabits Zazar, the laser avatar and the most powerful, and takes control of the game. It's up to the three partners to enter the game and fight Zazar to save the gamers from virtual--and real--disaster.