The Seventh Level is written by Jody Feldman. It was published in 2010 by Greenwillow Books. Feldman’s website can be found here.
Genre: Realistic, Middle Grade
“Lauer Middle School has a super-secret society—The Legend. No one knows who is in it. Or how they pull off the spectacular schoolwide events.
Seventh grader Travis Raines may be about to find out. A shiny blue envelope marked For Your Eyes Only mysteriously appears in his locker. You have been chosen, the message says. But if Travis is to become Legendary, he must first solve a series of mind-bending puzzles and complete their challenges. Then he needs to stay out of trouble. The assistant principal has her eye on him. So do his parents.
And even if he does all that’s asked of him, Travis still has one question: is the message really from the Legend?”
“I wish Kip had my arm strength. He’s about eighty-three feet taller than I am and would’ve been able to kick off the cap by now. Maybe Mattie would, too, but I don’t like to remember that her legs have suddenly grown higher than my waist.
I take a deep breath and ease down, brick by brick, my toes catching on mortar indents just enough to control my descent.”
“Travis, it would behoove you to solve this puzzle within three days. When you do, bring a circle there.
Bring a circle where? What kind of circle? A Frisbee? A doughnut? Or just something I draw on paper?
And what does “behoove” mean? Be a horse with hooves? No. “Betray” doesn’t mean to act like a tray. And I belong to stuff, but that doesn’t mean I be long. I be short.”
Recommended Age Range: 12+
What I Liked:
It’s a book that involves puzzles and the solving of puzzles! I love books like this! That’s why I read The 39 Clues and Brian Jacque’s Redwall series—because of the riddles/puzzles/clues. Books that involve heists, capers, and puzzles are some of my favorite books to read because they’re so fun (Gordon Korman writes some good heists; check out Swindle). And this book was very fun. It has some very funny lines, it has some complicated and not-so-complicated puzzles, it has plot and conflict and little mysteries. And Travis is an adorable protagonist, even though saying that makes me feel about one hundred years old. He’s cute! What can I say? He’s like a nine-year-old on a sugar rush with a thirteen-year-old’s intelligence. He’s one of those troublemaker types who never does anything to hurt other people and only hurts himself by doing crazy things (like climbing down the school wall from the roof to get a cap) and you can’t help but root for him. Because he’s adorable.
What I Didn’t Like:
The Legend just seems very…unrealistic. I would love to know if any middle school anywhere has a group like that.
The Seventh Level, while not being perhaps the greatest plot-wise, writing-wise, or in general, is still a fun book that involves puzzle solving and shenanigans. You’ll definitely have fun while reading it, even if it doesn’t contain some sort of deep meaning or message.
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