Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

William Wenton and the Impossible Puzzle

William Wenton and the Impossible Puzzle

Spring 2017 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781481478250
Hardcover Price: $16.99

William Wenton, 12, seesanswers. He can solve problems, crack codes. Something dreamlike washes over him, his instincts kick in, and he can visualize a solution to a puzzle. So when a special exhibit comes to town showcasing an "impossible puzzle" in need of a solution, William sneaks away from his class trip and into the puzzle event. He can't resist the challenge. But it turns out to be a bad idea.

William's family used to live in England, but they are on the run from something. Neither of William's parents will explain what or why exactly, but a mysterious accident left his father paralyzed from the waist down, and they now live in Norway and use a different last name.

William solves the puzzle, and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly he and his family are on the run again. He's being chased by "something big" that he can't see. He winds up passing out after a large iron claw grabs hold of the truck he's hiding in. He wakes up in a car that takes him to a plane that flies him to a strange school—the Institute for Post-Human Research—where the doors can talk and robots and orb gadgets can do just about anything. Plus, it's all somehow tied into his missing grandfather, who happens to be some kind of superhero code cracker.

William must battle man-eating mechanical plants, a robot dog and disobey house rules to get at his grandfather's old files. He does all that with the help of an intriguing girl he meets named Iscia. Can he trust her to help him get out of the institute and find his grandfather?

With elements of Harry Potter, DaVinci Code and X-Men Mutant Academy blurring together, there's a puzzle, a chase, a bit of science and characters fighting evil. It's largely engaging, although at times the details aren't clear, there are more questions than answers, and the plot is racing all over the place. Still, readers will clamor for more pages about William and where his bionic adventures will take him next, because this is clearly just the beginning.

Ann Oldenburg   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Ann Oldenburg, assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, began her career at The Washington Post and went on to spend more than two decades with USA Today, where she covered pop culture topics. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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