Thursday, November 10, 2016

Secret Coders: Paths and Portals

In this second book of Secret Coders, the mysterious happenings at Stately Academy are partly explained but only to the extent that the explanations open up new mysteries. Classmates Hopper, Eni, and Josh discover that the janitor on campus is not what he seemed to be. Also, the principal and rugby team suddenly become fascinated by what the trio is up to.

I am not going to spoil what happens, but I will say that you will probably not get so much out of this book unless you read part one. Also, I feel that the same things that dragged down the first book a bit, parts of exposition where the intricacies of code and how it plays out, are also present here.

Still, as you can see, there is more of an effort to ameliorate those passages with some accompanying illustrations. On a more positive note, I liked how the chapter cliffhangers ended with readers being asked if they can visualize or figure out what the instructions in the code would cause to happen. The storytelling may not be perfect, but the narrative is intriguing, fun, and interesting. This second book of the trilogy ends on a cliffhanger, and I will definitely be snapping up the third when it is published.

This book is a continuation of the collaboration between Gene Yang and Mike Holmes. Yang is one of the premier comics creators working today. He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship and is currently the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He also won the Printz Award for his graphic novel American Born Chinese. He explores themes of immigration, belief, identity, and growing up in his many works, including The Eternal Smile, Level Up, The Shadow Hero, the twin volumes Boxers & Saints, and his current run on New Superman. Holmes is best known for his work on the weekly comic True Story and drawing Adventure Time comics. Yang speaks more about Paths and Portals in this interview.

The reviews I have read for this book have all been positive. Kirkus Reviews summed up, "Between the creativity-encouraging coding lessons and the character-driven plotlines, this sequel charms from PenDown to PenUp." Common Sense Media opined, "Learning to code can be a daunting task, but this clever graphic novel makes it look, if not simple, at least understandable." Brett Schenker at Graphic Policy raved, "Even as an adult I found myself learning as Yang masterfully teaches without you feeling like you’re being taught to."

Paths and Portals was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more available here.

There is also a unique website for the whole series, complete with videos and activities. You can check that out here.

No comments:

Post a Comment