From Publishers Weekly
The code-breaking and -making heroine of Thomas's latest smart, engaging novel (after Going Out
) takes a critical view of the corporate marketing of cool, an exploit she knows from inside the rapaciously hip boardrooms of the titular British toy company, the third largest in the world. Twenty-nine-year-old Alice Butler has parlayed her expertise in "crosswords, cryptography, and cryptanalysis";talents she gained from her mathematically inclined grandparents;into a job at PopCo's Ideation and Design department, where she creates sleuthing kits for kids (KidSpy, KidTec and KidCracker). At a companywide countryside retreat (aka "Thought Camp"), the CEO selects Alice to help invent a product that will spark a craze for teenage girls. While Alice looks into her past for insight to this inadequately tapped market;and for clues to her own identity;she also ponders a locket from her grandfather that may contain the code to a centuries-old puzzle. As Alice works on PopCo's blockbuster product and decodes the ancient brainteaser, as well as encrypted messages from an anonymous PopCo colleague, she becomes increasingly disenchanted with her employer's ubiquitous branding, advertising and exploitation of young consumers. Thomas delivers a captivating heroine and a pointed cultural critique that will especially resonate with the No Logo
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mathematical puzzles. Mind-bending codes. A secret manuscript. And a cake recipe, too. Thomas' latest (after 2004's Going Out
) has a chronic case of attention deficit disorder. As the novel opens, Brit Alice Butler is en route to a retreat sponsored by her employer, PopCo, a cutting-edge--and slightly creepy--toy company. (Alice takes the midnight train to avoid colleagues--and human contact in general--an early indication that she is a little off-kilter.) It's no wonder Alice considers herself an outsider; her father disappeared when she was nine, leaving her in the care of her grandparents, two quirky cryptanalysts privy to the whereabouts of a centuries-old buried treasure. Meanwhile, at the company conference, Alice and her colleagues are charged with developing the ultimate product for the teen-girl market. Alice is soon distracted from the task by mysterious encoded messages slipped under her door. Will deciphering them shape her future, or perhaps shed light on the past? Although Thomas' premise is clever, her digressions into esoteric topics (Godel, anyone?) are likely to leave readers more exhausted than amused. Allison BlockCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved