by Linda Covella
The game that’s every kid’s virtual dream becomes a real nightmare when an evil avatar takes control.
What if you were 8, or 11, or 14, and you could race cars at 150 mph, bungee jump, fly, eat all the ice cream and candy you wanted, or become powerful avatars such as Robobug, Kulshedra the dragon, and Altai, the gryphon avatar?
All this and more is possible in the ultimate virtual reality game The Cryptogram Connection created by 14-year-old computer whiz Cody Reynolds and his two classmates, Nicole Nash and Kerry McCorkle. To advance to different levels in the game, players must solve cryptograms, or secret codes. They create their game to be used with the latest VR technology developed by local game manufacturer NuVision Games–a headset with biosensors that transmit signals to the brain, fooling it into tasting, hearing, feeling, seeing, and smelling what was programmed into the game. The games are as close to reality as reality itself.
The game becomes every kids’ virtual dream, and Cody, Nicole, and Kerry, besides becoming national celebrities, make more money than they ever imagined. But The Cryptogram Connection turns into “cryptogram chaos” when an evil presence inhabits Zazar, the laser avatar and the most powerful, and takes control of the game. It’s up to the three partners to enter the game and fight Zazar to save the gamers from virtual—and real—disaster.
“Definitely give the puzzles in this tale a try. They were extremely easy in the beginning, but they slowly grew more difficult over time. I had a good time trying to figure all of them out before moving onto the next scene. It made me feel like I was actually playing the game that the main characters had created. The puzzles were a nice addition to the plot because of this.”
“A fast read, full of imagination, adventure and fully fledged characters.”
“I was hooked by the first chapter!”
CIR: What inspired this book?
COVELLA: I was inspired to write this book because I was tired of seeing the violent nature of most computer games. I wanted to have a game where kids advance to different levels by means other than fighting, killing, etc. I came up with the idea that gamers must solve cryptograms, or secret codes, to advance.
CIR: What did you enjoy most about writing this?
COVELLA: I changed the point of view a few times. First it was written through Nicole’s POV (the one who first comes up with the game idea). Then I wrote it through both Nicole’s and Cody’s POVs. Finally, I settled on Cody’s alone, since he’s the one who goes through the most dramatic change by the end of the story. It was difficult doing all the rewriting, but I enjoyed it, and learned more about my characters in the process.
CIR: Did this require any research, and what kind?
COVELLA: Yes! I had to research virtual reality: its origins, current state, and possibilities for the future. I wanted to use something different than the typical glasses/goggles for the VR, and came up with the idea of the headset. I also had to research cryptography, and then write the cryptograms for the story.
CIR: What would you compare this book to?
COVELLA: I think readers who enjoyed Ready Player One by Ernest Cline will enjoy Cryptogram Chaos.
CIR: What message do you hope your readers will get out of this book?
COVELLA: The story is fun and suspenseful, but there is an underlining theme about bullying, friendship, and trust. Though someone may be different in some way, if we open our minds and our hearts, real friendships can be the result. And in a true friendship, there is trust, and to maintain that trust, there must be honesty.
Learn more about Linda Covella and her writing at www.lindacovella.com