The Shadow Cipher
The Shadow Cipher

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Series: York Vol. 1   

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Annotation: In an alternate New York, three kids try to solve the greatest mystery of the modern world: a puzzle and treasure hunt laid into the very streets and buildings of New York City.
Catalog Number: #151161
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 476 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-230693-6 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99741-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-230693-7 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99741-7
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
In an alternate-reality NYC, twins Tess and Theo and neighbor Jaime hope to solve the Old York Cipher--created by the nineteenth-century inventors of the city's "mechanical wizardry"--and save their apartment building from a scheming developer. Geography, history, and steampunk-esque machines are thoroughly integrated into the thrum of a strange but recognizable city. Both mystery and sci-fi fans will eagerly anticipate the next installment.
Publishers Weekly
In this entertaining race through an alternate-history New York City, first in the York trilogy, several children attempt to unravel their city-s greatest unsolved puzzle in order to save their historic apartment building from an unscrupulous real-estate tycoon. Twins Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz are determined to solve the clues left behind by the Morningstarrs, legendary architects and inventors who dazzled New York with fantastic technology and skyscrapers before vanishing. As the intrepid trio follows a chain of previously undiscovered hints, they-re drawn deeper into the truth behind the so-called Old York Cipher. Printz Award-winner Ruby (Bone Gap) conjures a compelling vision of a city rife with enigmas and secrets through third-person narration that highlights the key roles played by the friends and a young neighbor named Cricket. The details of Ruby-s alternate New York fascinate-this is a world that features familiar pop culture references (Legos, Nancy Drew, Marvel superheroes), which are subtly tweaked and accompanied by intriguing tech, such as the robotic caterpillars that keep the Underway (aka subway) clean. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for book two. Ages 8-12. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (May)

Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Printz winner Ruby's middle-grade series opener gracefully tackles magic, history, and gentrification. When a potato-faced real estate mogul buys their historic, rent-controlled building, three middle schoolers—bushy-haired, olive-skinned Jewish twins Tess and Theo and brown-skinned Trinidadian-Cuban neighbor Jaime—band together to solve a centuries-old mystery. At once thoroughly modern (a solar-powered city filled with a genuinely diverse cast of characters) and charmingly old-fashioned (steampunk machinery, ciphers, and a mystery at times reminiscent of Ellen Raskin or E.L. Konigsburg), Ruby's vision of New York brims with innovative details that perfectly support her themes of friendship, family, and history. Emotionally fragile, highly intelligent Tess and Theo are balanced by the less-volatile, artistically gifted Jaime: all are complex, nuanced adolescents. They throw themselves into the Morningstarr Cipher, named for the twins who built much of New York's astounding infrastructure (elevators that go sideways, subways that climb buildings), hoping to discover a treasure—but the Cipher "tr[ies] to solve you" as you solve it. This first volume opens up an ever expanding sense of magic, culminating in a bittersweet ending that promises bigger things to come. It's a doorstopper, but other than one brief dip, the pacing keeps the pages turning, while the details reward close reading. The past informs the present as the review informs readers: don't let this one go. (Mystery/fantasy. 10-15)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Twins Tess and Theo live in one of the only remaining buildings designed by the Morningstarrs, visionary twins who built glittering structures in nineteenth-century New York, as well as the Cipher, a notorious, citywide puzzle leading to fantastic treasure. Now, in the twenty-first century, Tess and Theo's building has been purchased by a mercenary developer, but Tess grasps at a shred of hope: if they solve the Cipher, they might be able to keep their home. With robust, architectural world building, Ruby reveals an alternate New York teeming with mechanical marvels and compelling secrets. This New York still has some familiar features, however: a rich culture of diversity alongside insidious greed and wealth inequality. Tess and Theo, and their friend and neighbor Jaime, have distinct voices and idiosyncrasies that, though some might consider them odd, become marvelous strengths. As the trio traverse the city, they're often baffled by how easily clues fall into their hands, but Ruby slyly sidesteps those coincidences by giving the Cipher itself a mysterious, subtle sort of agency. In this smart, immersive series starter, Ruby expertly juggles stunning plot choreography, realistic stakes in a captivating fantasy setting, well-wrought characters, and flashes of sharp cultural commentary. It's a brainy romp with a worrying heart, and while many plot threads are resolved, Theo, Tess, and Jaime will surely, thankfully, be back for more.
Word Count: 89,751
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 14.0 / quiz: 189888 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.7 / points:21.0 / quiz:Q71551
Lexile: HL780L

“The pleasures of the novel go far beyond the crackling, breathless plot and the satisfaction of watching the puzzle fall into place. The book is shot through with humor, both laugh-out-loud and subtle.” New York Times Book Review

From National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner Laura Ruby comes an epic alternate history series about three kids who try to solve the greatest mystery of the modern world: a puzzle and treasure hunt laid into the very streets and buildings of New York City.

It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before.

Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.

Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York.

And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.

"An epic mission to solve one of the greatest mysteries of their time. I loved this book. It is full of twists and turns" (from the Brightly.com review, which named York: The Shadow Cipher one of the best books of 2017).


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