Thursday, April 26, 2012

Math Can Be Dangerous and Fun!

A Girl Named Digit
Math? Fun? You have got to be kidding, right? Well, for Farrah Higgens, in A Girl Named Digit, by Annabelle Monaghan, math is more than just something she is good at. It is almost a compulsion. So much so that her nickname is Digit. But math gets Digit more than she bargained for when she cracks a terrorist code embedded in a teen romance television program.

Digit is the girl Farrah has worked very hard to hide. Her parents even made the school promise to seal her SAT and placement scores in order to protect her from unwanted attention about her scores (which got her into MIT for the fall semester). Farrah works very hard to hide Digit, but when she notices a series of numbers flashing briefly on the screen of a silly teen drama one night, she can't help but notice them. Over the next couple of episodes, Digit realizes there is more to the numbers and cracks a code that leads her to the discovery of an event at JFK. Unfortunately, she doesn't know what the code means until she sees the news where a plane was destroyed and people were killed by a suicide bomber at JFK. Terrified, Digit and her faithful father go to the FBI to report her findings, at which point they are essentially laughed out of the office. But Digit doesn't give up.

She goes to the show's studio to get more information about the code, but she is immediately followed. Being the smart girl she is, she manages to get herself arrested and her attacker recorded by security cameras in order to be taken to the FBI safely. Finally, with the face of her attacker, the FBI realizes her code breaking is legitimate and that Digit is now being hunted by the same eco-terrorists who blew up the luxury jet at JFK. In order to protect Digit, the FBI lets the media think she is kidnapped and puts her in hiding with a particularly young and handsome FBI prodigy named John. When John and Digit crack another code, they can't help but track it down, but it means they will be running for their lives. But when you can't help but crack the codes, what can you do when they are right in front of you?

This was a really cute story for anyone who likes any books from Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls, Heist Society) or the like. It is a cute, girly middle reader adventure that sucks you in and keeps you reading. Digit is an interesting character because she is absolutely brilliant and still embarrassed by it. We all know what it is like for kids to stand out for being smart and have seen kids "hide" their smarts, so this story would be a great way to bring that out into the open. Why are they ashamed of being smart? Why would anyone hide the fact that they were a mathematical genius? I think you could find some really interesting conversations popping up within this realm. And the coolest thing is that Digit ends up foiling a terrorist plot with her smarts! Not to mention, I love the idea that John finds her intelligence one of her best features. Gotta love a boy who likes a girl for her brains!

I would say this is an excellent book for the pre-teen to teenage "girly girls" who like to read about boys and romance, but it still has a smart, strong young woman as the lead character. It is a fun, fast read so a struggling reader would be able to finish it fairly quickly and have success with the accessible reading level. The terrorist plot is particularly relevant for the world we live in today, making this story more than just your average "boy meets girl" story. All I can say is I hope we see more of Digit! 

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