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Click Here to Start: 12/17/16
Click Here to Start by Denis Markell is a wonderful mixture of mystery, history, and gaming theory. It's a bit like PopCo for middle graders.
Ted Gerson is a Japanese-American boy who loves locked room games. He's one of the best at solving those types of puzzles. When his great uncle dies, he leaves behind a real world locked door treasure hunt for his nephew.
Ted's uncle lived in Hawaii, lived through Pearl Harbor, and served in the army in the European campaign. Usually in middle grade fiction when there's a Japanese American family and World War II, the story centers on the internment of Japanese Americans. Click Here reminds everyone that Hawaii — the place with the largest population of Japanese, didn't inter anyone.
In the present day, Ted's treasure hunt at first looks like a massive clean up job. The uncle was a bit of a hoarder. His apartment is full of weird stuff intermingled with garbage. To a mind honed on dozens of locked room puzzle games, Ted sees a pattern to the collection. He sees clues.
If this were just a treasure hunt that served as a meditation on how one's things reflect one's life, it would have been a quiet, memorable read. Ted finds himself in the midst of a video game brought to life with real world villains who want the treasure for themselves.
Fans of Framed by James Ponti will enjoy Click Here to Start.