Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell

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Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781406391725.
(Ages: 10+). Highly recommended. Wonderscape author, Jennifer Bell, has written an exciting and intriguing gaming adventure set primarily in the future. Her three main characters, Arthur, Ren and Cecily, are all thirteen years old and from the 21st century. They are all very different, have no real connection to each other except attending the same high school and bring their own special qualities to the eventual quest they must undertake. An explosion in Peacepoint Estate leads to the three being transported through a Wonderway (portal) to a wooden ship, Principia, where they meet the first of the many historical figures, Isaac Newton. They also are exposed to the mimics (robots) which play a pivotal role throughout the story. On the ship the children are given Wondercloaks which have amazing attributes that assist them on their complex and dangerous journey. Wonderscape is actually an I-RAG - an in-reality adventure game where players known as wanderers complete challenges for rewards and to be able to progress to another realm. Every realm is themed around a different hero from History and there is a riddle to be solved. The realms are hazardous and in order to find their way back to the 21st Century, the three travellers must go through a number of them to search for a missing person and the time-key that will unlock the Wonderway to home - all within fifty six hours or they will become in Arthur's words "slime". Travelling with the three children is a dog named Cloud who is full of surprises and is crucial to the overall outcome of the quest. The Wonderscape game was designed by three adopted siblings, Tiburon Nox, Valeria Mal'fey and Milo Hertz, who each took on different roles. There is conflict within the family which has led to a change of the initial principles of the game which is now on a self-destructive path.
The amazing plot and story-telling in Wonderscape keeps the reader wanting more. Those who are gamers will readily identify with many of the terms and concepts in the story and those who are not gamers will learn a little bit more about this 21st century phenomenon. Themes: Gaming, Time travel, Danger, History, Mystery, STEM, Friendship, Trust, Problem solving.
Kathryn Beilby