Upper middle grade mystery
Thirteen-year-old Jared lives for video games, so he’s pumped for the chance to design his own at summer camp. When star-teen programmer, Brent Kagon, shows up too, Jared figures he’ll learn exactly what he needs to top the iTunes Apps chart. After all, Brent may be just Jared’s age, but he’s already made it big.
But Brent is too busy finishing his latest killer app to waste time with “noob” programmers. Noob? Jared’s determined to show his idol he has skill by making his app the Best. Game. Ever. But his plans crash when he finds Brent unconscious, slumped on his MacBook. Brent’s game code is missing!
Chaos descends as cops and the media arrive, then levels up as accusations fly. Everyone’s freaking — Brent because the thief stole his best ideas, the camp director because Brent’s threatening to sue, and Jared because his name’s at the top of Brent’s suspect list. Things can’t get any worse. But then Jared’s mystery-loving twin sister, Maxine, gets her “Nancy Drew” look. The last thing Jared wants is his flirty sister’s “help” solving a high-tech mystery. Jared needs Aaron, his best friend and gaming bud, to help find the real thief and clear his name. Maxine’s “help” is more likely to scramble Aaron’s brain and leave Jared headed to juvie.
I’ve been to plenty of summer camps, but the steep, winding drive to this one made me twitchy. Tree limbs blocked the sun, creating a gloomy twilight that made me think of Frodo leaving The Shire. Like Frodo, I was beginning a dangerous quest into hostile territory: a week at Geek Camp. I peered out the window into the creepy forest, not sure what I might find. A shiver ran up my spine.
The bus bumped over a last pot-hole and broke into a clearing at the top of the mountain. It stopped in front of a white building surrounded on three sides by trees – Hartland Mountain Academy. Geek Camp was run by this private school for math and science nerds. This place didn’t do swimming, hiking and crafts. Smart kids came here to learn about robotics, rocketry or the animal life of the forest. Or, like me, to design video games.
My best friend and gaming bud, Aaron, elbowed me. “Dude, this is your best idea ever,” he said with a smirk.
Right. Right. Best idea ever. I couldn’t back out now.
But the thought of spending a week surrounded by brainiacs made my hands clammy. I had no clue what geniuses talked about. Maybe they never watched anything but Discovery Channel shows. Maybe they wouldn’t waste time playing any game but chess. I wondered if I could hang with a bunch of geniuses without feeling like an idiot.