Goodreads: The Name of This Book Is Secret
Series: Secret #1
Official Summary: Warning: this description has not been authorized by Pseudonymous Bosch. As much as he’d love to sing the praises of his book (he is very vain), he wouldn’t want you to hear about his brave 11-year old heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest. Or about how a mysterious box of vials, the Symphony of Smells, sends them on the trail of a magician who has vanished under strange (and stinky) circumstances. And he certainly wouldn’t want you to know about the hair-raising adventures that follow and the nefarious villains they face. You see, not only is the name of this book secret, the story inside is, too. For it concerns a secret. A Big Secret.
Review: The Name of This Book Is Secret is a fun and clever book that invites readers to take part in solving the mystery of a magician’s death—or, rather, it warns them so much against reading the story and getting involved in this dangerous case that they will want nothing more than to plunge right in. The voice of the book, as one can guess, is a little cocky and a little cryptic, addressing the readers directly to add clever comments and asides. It is not a voice, however, that talks down to children, but rather one that gets right on their level, sympathizing with them about adults who do not believe true stories because they are too impossible and explaining sagely that, while morally objectionable, lying can be a very useful skill. In short, kids and anyone with a young heart will love the narrator because he seems to know so well how they think and what they want. And to a large degree, they want a good story.
The Name of This Book Is Secret does have a lot of interactive elements, such as riddles and clues to solve, and it does have a lot of “effects,” such as pages that have nothing more than a warning not to continue. These are ridiculously fun, even if the riddles and codes are fairly obvious to those with some experience in the matter (doubtless they are just challenging enough for younger readers to be fun without being overly frustrating). Yet the book is not held together by pure cleverness; it also has a very good plot. Cass and Max-Ernest, while attempting to learn more about the suspicious and sudden death of a local magician, find themselves embroiled in a lot of secrets and running from the villains who would like to exploit them. In short: this is interesting. Even the backstories are interesting, drawing on everything that catches the imagination of kids, including circuses and ancient Egyptian history. Bosch knows his audience.
It is true that none of the plot is particularly surprising, at least to readers who have been paying attention. Yet it is a credit to the book that an older or a skilled reader can predict the twists and still be caught up in the tale. Bosch keeps readers captivated by ensuring they are equally interested in what in happening in the book and in the way he tells them about it.
This book is dark, funny, clever, and a little arrogant. It is quirky, imaginative, and real. Basically, this is exactly the type of thing I would have fallen in love with as a child, and still greatly enjoy and admire now.
Published: October 1, 2007
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