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This is a really tricky review for me, I really enjoyed the book but I wonder if middle graders, who are the target audience, would feel the same. This book is a delight for big readers, there are tons of Easter eggs for avid readers. Again, some of the references might be above the grade level of perspective readers. I work with kids and while some are avid bookworms, not many would get all the references. The great thing is they might be more like Kyle, video and board gamers, who by the end of the book are curious about books they heard about through the puzzles. It might inspire them to start a To Be Read list just like him!
I really liked all the characters, at first I worried that 12 kids would be too many to keep track of, thankfully they were quickly whittles down to a manageable number. Most of the time the story is in Kyle's POV but the narration does switch to Charles and Holly as well. For the most part it is very easy to follow who is narrating, there are a couple spots where it gets jumpy or a line gets blurred. this style is great for getting into the main kids heads, it definitely makes it clear who the reader should and should not root for!
Being a bookworm I loved the library!! I would live in that library!!! This book is to readers what Willy Wonka is to candy/chocolate lovers!!! I adored every twist and turn, every bookie reference and the deliciously imaginative book repository!!
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jesse Bernstein. He does a great job of conveying the wonder of the story. I would have loved a touch more enthusiasm in the kids voices especially at high energy moments. The characters had very distinct voices and they stayed consistent throughout the read. A nice steady pace, I like things a little quicker so I doubled the listening speed, but it is perfect for young readers/listeners.
There are morals here, but they are not hammering you to the ground. Kids are rewarded for doing the right thing and punished or ejected from the game for doing bad things. A great story that is fun and imaginative from beginning to end. Just the thing for an avid reader or someone who is looking to find a love of books!