Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang

Bestselling, awardwinning Gene Luen Yang is back with a groundbreaking graphic novel series about solving mysteries with computer programming!
Welcome to Silicon Hills 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 Nikhil are going to solve the mystery of Silicon Hills 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 coding instruction with a pageturning mystery plot!
Gene Luen Yang has written and drawn many comics, including the hit Avatar: The Last Airbender series. American Born Chinese was a National Book Award finalist, as well as the winner of the Printz Award and an Eisner Award. He also won the LA Times Book Prize for Boxers & Saints. Yang lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mike Holmes has drawn for the comics series Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time, and the viral art project Mikenesses. His books include the True Story collection (2011), This American Drive (2009), and Shenanigans. He lives with a cat named Ella, who is his best buddy.

If this graphic novel had been around when I was a kid, I'd probably be much more well-versed and interested in programming than I am now.

In Secret Coders, Hopper is a transferee to Silicon Hills Academy. She finds it hard to make friends at first, and the creepy birds and weird buildings aren't helping matters. As it turns out, though, there's much more to this school than meets the eye.

I've read up on programming before, but I've only gotten as far as the basics before my brain kind of shuts down and stops trying to digest the information. This book was able to explain to me, and actually able to make it stick in my mind, how to interpret binary code. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it was. I mean, it was slow going at first, but it's not impossible to do. I was quite impressed.

This book is a bit like Programming 101, but since it's a rather short graphic novel, or shorter than I would have liked anyway, it really just concentrates mostly on how to interpret binary code and demonstrate how programming commands work.

All this was done in a manner that was fun and easy-to-follow. The plot of Hopper and Eni becoming friends after a terrible first impression was rather interesting. The whole mystery of the numbers at the school looks promising as well, but because of the length of the novel, we've only begun to scratch the surface.

There are so many things that can be done with the premise, and given how much I liked this book, I think this graphic novel has the potential to be a very long-running series.

Thanks to NetGalley and First Second for the e-ARC.


  1. It makes learning programming easier-to-understood.
  2. Hopper is likable and relatable.
  3. This premise has plenty of potential.


  1. The novel was shorter than I would have liked. 


  1. Your child is interested in learning computer programming.
  2. You want to learn more about programming.
  3. You like mysteries and graphic novels. 



Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.

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