As the clock counts down to Zero Hour, 200 of the best and brightest kids form teams competing to solve a challenge created by a young visionary with world-changing goals. For Rex, Tunde and Painted Wolf, the competition is only part of the challenge. Rex needs a supercomputer housed at the challenge site to locate his brother whose been missing for two years. A war lord threatens to wipe Tunde’s whole village off the map unless Tunde and his friends deliver a powerful weapon to him at the end of the contest. Painted Wolf will do anything to help her friends, but she must keep her identity a secret or her family’s lives are forfeit.
This book reminded me a little bit of On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers. It had a really diverse cast of extremely bright kids with very diverse talents (everything from biology to mechanical engineering to coding.) From the description of the book, I was expecting a much more tense, sort of cerebral thriller kind of tale. While there are some tense moments and the story follows the solving of a puzzle, I didn’t feel like I was really on the edge of my seat so much. I liked Rex a lot and Painted Wolf. Tunde felt a little stiff to me, but his strong sense of morality won me over for sure.
My husband is a software engineer, so I enjoyed showing him some of the code in the story and letting him kind of explain it to me. I liked the way Gout used the code to advance the story, and I was definitely excited to see a software guy in the hero seat. Loved that. (Obviously I’m a bit biased, but still.) I thought it was interesting how the pieces fit together into a much larger puzzle by the end of the story. I’m definitely curious as to where it will go next.
Readers looking for a high-tech adventure story should definitely give this one a read. I think fans of the Percy Jackson books would enjoy the team challenge elements of this story and the strong characters. Over all it’s really clean, and I definitely appreciated that, too.
A war lord makes some threats to Tunde, saying he will basically destroy Tunde’s entire village unless Tunde brings him a custom-made weapon. At one point the war lord puts Tunde’s mom on the phone with him and she pleads with him. It’s intense, but not violent per se.
One team performs surgery on an insect to install an electrical control system.