The Alcatraz Escape (The Book Scavenger series) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-09-08 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 11 user ratings

"Un-put-down-able. With twist upon twist, this fast-paced mystery finds the delightful sleuthing duo, Emily and James, once again thick in the middle of a bookish, puzzle-filled game devised by quirky Book Scavenger mastermind, Garrison Griswold. Bertman set a high bar for herself with the first two books in her series. To my eyes, though, this is the best of the bunch-- endlessly fun, filled with interesting asides on history (the heart of the story takes place on Alcatraz Island) and literary figures (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammett, and more), and alive with heart on every page. What I most admire about the Book Scavenger series is that the kids in the stories are credible, distinct, and clever--real kids, not jaded or cheesy fabrications--and the friendship between Emily and James anchors each book so strongly, readers can't help but root for them to solve puzzle after puzzle. I don't know if this is the last book in the series or not--but if it is, The Alcatraz Escape puts a more-than-worthy cap on a trilogy young readers will savor for years. I'm eager to see what Bertman does next. " said.

"This is book #3 in the Book Scavenger series. When I picked this book up I did not realize that I actually had read book one until a few pages in. Although I did read the first book and have not read the second book yet, I felt like this book did okay as a book on it own. I usually have a big rule against reading series books out of order but it did not send me into panic mode I might have thought.

I really enjoyed the concept and adventure in this book. I loved the puzzles and enjoyed that the reader might take a moment to figure them out or just appreciate the characters as they solved clues along the way. The teacher in me always appreciates historical information included without it being overly heavy handed. So many times in middle school readers characters stop unnaturally and have weird conversations to include learning tidbits. Learning a bit about Alcatraz and Harriet Beecher Stowe is included pretty seamlessly into the storyline. The story moved along and kept my interest for most of the book. I think that many young bibliophiles will appreciate these characters and enjoy this book and the entire series.
" said.

"We're three books into this series and haven't lost a step! These books are so delightful and just keep getting better. I'm not sure what I'll do when/if (please, please, please) Book 4 comes out, as I can't go any higher than 5 stars. In this book, Mr. Griswold's newest game, to raise fund to help his old friend Hollister restore his store, devastated by fire in Book 2, takes the Book Scavengers to Alcatraz. Again, our heroine Emily feels like such a real kid. She's not perfect. She doesn't blow through the entry puzzle easily. She worries she might not get to participate if she can't solve the puzzle. But she doesn't think about pulling strings as part of Mr. Griswold's "teen advisory team" or snatching a "golden ticket" when she sees a young girl and her grandfather searching for the same thing. She's a good kid. We meet a few new kids and new adults (though I was sorry not to see more of Mr. Quisling and Miss Linden), and the reveal was well hidden while not out of the blue. I caught on to it just pages before it was revealed. The puzzles were fun to play along with (or try ... I'm not as good at puzzles as Emily and her friends), and I love how the author puts so much of San Francisco's deep history into her stories. It seems like (and I hope) she'll have plenty of history to inspire her to more books!" said.

"Reading Book Scavenger: Escape from Alcatraz really made me want to read the previous two books in the series!
James and Emily are best friends, united in their love of reading, mysteries, adventure. After solving many puzzles in the previous books, the two friends have found their next quest: a mystery game held at Alcatraz! What’s even better is that Errol Roy, one of James’ favorite authors is helping to design the game.
Getting into the game is not so easy, even though the two are friends with the creator of the game. And once they arrive at the historic prison island, everything begins to go sour. Emily and James start receiving menacing notes, and after Emily’s brother Matthew is unjustly accused of stealing an opponent’s bracelet, the kids start to suspect that there is some foul play going on. It does not even seem like the author wants to be there. But Emily, James, and their friends are eager to learn Alcatraz’s secrets. Furthermore, if someone solves the puzzle in time, the author will donate to the community’s favorite bookstore! The team progresses successfully in the game, until another competitor traps Emily, and it does not seem like she will ever find a way out.
Anyone who loves mysteries (like me!) will eat this book right up. The writing is easy to understand, but the plot will interest both kids and adults. Surprises are at every turn, and the ending will blow readers out of the water!
" said.

"Mr. Griswold's newest Book Scavenger competition is coming up. Unlock the Rock is being hosted at Alcatraz and reclusive and secretive mystery author Errol Roy is not only helping write the story for the day's event, he's supposed to make his first public appearance! It's going to be huge. Emily and James and the rest of their friends are excited about the event, but secretly Emily is also a little nervous. She's feeling a bit of pressure after all the publicity of solving the Twain code, and the puzzle to get a ticket to Unlock the Rock has her stumped. What if she can't even make it? On top of that, someone is leaving messages in her locker to stay away from the event and she and Matthew haven't been getting along too well lately. Is everything going to fall apart?

I liked how this book explored how fame can change things and how to handle that in healthy ways. I also liked all the interesting history on Alcatraz Island and Harriet Beecher Stowe included in this one. I did figure out the mystery of Unlock the Rock before the kids, but it was still fun to read about them figuring it out and solving puzzles along the way. There were some rather unkind competitors in this one that made parts of this unpleasant but eventually justice prevailed and Emily, James, and gang learned some important lessons along the way. Overall, another great Book Scavenger book.

Notes on content: No language issues or sexual content. One perilous situation but no one is seriously injured.
" said.

"4.5 stars

WAH! Released just this year (2018) I am now doing the waiting game with this series since I read this third title so quickly.

In this title, Book Scavenger creator Garrison Griswold is finding his mojo again after his attack last fall. Inspired by Emily's President's Day Valentines GameCon Dance game he has offered up a new game for people to play, Unlock the Rock. In escape room game style he's letting people try to break a code on Alcatraz, the infamous rock island that housed dangerous criminals until 1963. Much to his, and everyone else's surprise, popular and reclusive mystery author Errol Roy wants to participate in the game by providing the story line for the clues and the code to be broken. This adds a heightened interest in the game and competition is lining up.

Emily, James, Matthew, and their group of friends all enter the game contest. The day of the game arrives and everyone excitedly travels to Alcatraz to play Griswold's newest game. Emily, however, is rather nervous. She has a foreboding that she can't shake. When a few odd events happen and Matthew gets blamed for them Emily goes on the hunt - not for the clues to the code but for who might be framing her brother and more importantly why.

Alcatraz is a bucket list item. I really want to go there and explore and learn. Actually, San Francisco is a bucket list location. But I digress. I think what I love so much about these stories Bertman is authoring is the creativity behind them - the creation of a book hunt, of code breaking, of creating a community of people through books and reading. I love it. Like I said in my review of book 2, it inspires me. This read was fun but not fun like the other two titles. It was a little...darker. And I attribute that to Emily's impressions of Alcatraz and all the myths and lores surrounding it. What I loved about this story in particular was the vivid picture Bertman painted of the game - the characters Griswold hired to play the parts, the clues and codes that had to be found and assembled to reveal a larger piece of the puzzle, etc. Looking forward to the next Book Scavenger adventure - hoping I don't have to wait too long!
" said.

" You might also enjoy:✱ York series✱ The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series✱ The Blackthorn Key series✱ Mr. Lemoncello's Library series✱ Ajax Penumbra 1969 (This short story also features books and a (view spoiler)[1849 Gold Rush ship, similar to the one in Books Scavenger: The Unbreakable Code. (hide spoiler)])✱ Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore✱ Mr. Lemoncello's Library series✱ A Treasure's Trove: A Fairy Tale about Real Treasure✱ Masquerade " said.

I really enjoyed this book! It was a great third book of a great series, The Book Scavenger. I was fortunate to get a copy from Macmillan Publishers for review, which I am super thankful for. Thank you again Macmillan! Stay tuned for a fun review!

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co/Macmillan
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Genre: Fiction Mystery
Age Group: Middle Grade to Young Adult readers
Stance: 3rd book in the Book Scavenger trilogy

The infamous game maker - Garrison Griswold is back again with another hands - on puzzle challenge, this time set on the one and only Alcatraz Island located right off the coast of San Francisco. Emily and James cannot wait to participate in the challenge test their puzzle knowledge, but with their sudden wave of popularity things don’t go quite like they expected. Threatening notes and anonymous players wanting to take them the puzzle solving duo out of the game. With this in mind, Emily and James can’t enjoy Alcatraz like they wanted to. When Emily’s brother, Matthew, who is also playing the game gets caught with proof for things he never did. Emily and James were then sure Matthew is being framed. They are both determined to crack this Alcatraz mystery. As the two kids go along trying to crack both the Matthew mystery, and the escape room mysterious clues lead them to a list of suspects and weird happenings.

Overall I would say about a 3.75/5 stars.
" said.

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