About the Book

Title: Secret Coders (Secret Coders #1)
Paths & Portals (Secret Coders #2)
Published: 2015

When I was asked if FYA wanted to take part in the Reading Without Walls blog tour I jumped at the chance to read something that I would normally never bat an eye at. Believe it or not, reading these books – Gene Luen Yang’s Secret Coders series and Jade Hemsworth’s Project MC2: Smart Is The New Cool – was me stepping OUT of my comfort zone. Sure, they’re written for middle-schoolers but coding? STEM? I was never particularly math-aversive, but I definitely was more comfortable reading novels than figuring out trigonometry equations.

The Official Word(s)

Secret Coders:

Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes!

From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!

Paths & Portals:

There’s something lurking beneath the surface of Stately Academy―literally. In a secret underground classroom Hopper, Eni, and Josh discover that the campus was once home to the Bee School, an institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper and her friends are eager to follow in this tradition and become top-rate coders. But why are Principal Dean and the rugby team suddenly so interested in their extracurricular activities?

Wait, These Are MG Books?

Reading Secret Coders and its sequel Paths & Portals made me realize just how much of my analytical brain I DON’T use anymore. Guys, I was pretty stumped by the STEM equations. Or maybe I’m just an impatient old lady, but I DO know that 12-year old Amanda would’ve LOVED these books. Books that encourage girls to take pride in their minds and never stop asking questions? Be still my beating heart!

In Secret Coders and Paths & Portals, Eni, Hopper, and Josh don’t exactly start out as friends, but nothing makes for a solid friendship foundation more than mutual enemies, and Stately Academy is full of them! From the meatheads on the rugby team, the mean girls on the basketball team, and even the principal himself (!) our friends are going to need to put their heads and talents together in order to save the day. I really appreciated the diverse backgrounds that the kids come from; Eni is a boy in a family full of sisters and two loving parents. Hopper is bi-racial with a Chinese mom and a white dad, who are also going through a divorce. Hopper’s anger about this is REAL and relatable for anyone who whose parents split up. Josh is, so far, the weakest character, going from bully-to-friend, but Hopper doesn’t let him forget what a jerk he’s been, and I suspect there will be a lot more character development for Josh in future volumes.

Readers are not only walked through basic coding problems, but they are also given pages to figure out the problems themselves! OVERACHIEVERS UNITE. This is a great series for kids, and for parents and kids to read together while also getting their math on.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received copies of these books from Macmillan Books, but got neither mai tais nor money in exchange for these reviews (DAMMIT). Secret Coders and Paths & Portals are available now.

About the Contributor:

Amanda Reid is an East Coast girl living in California who will never stop missing a true autumn. She’s a bookseller who specializes in kid and teen lit, and she bakes a damn fine pie.

This post was written by a guest writer or former contributor for Forever Young Adult.